Internet and Computer Safety
If you are in danger, please try to use a safer computer that someone abusive does not have direct or remote (hacking) access to.
If you think your activities are being monitored, they probably are. Abusive people are often controlling and want to know your every move. You don’t need to be a computer programmer or have special skills to monitor someone’s computer and Internet activities — anyone can do it and there are many ways to monitor with programs like Spyware, keystroke loggers and hacking tools.
It is not possible to delete or clear all the “footprints” of your computer or online activities. If you are being monitored, it may be dangerous to change your computer behaviors such as suddenly deleting your entire Internet history if that is not your regular habit.
If you think you may be monitored on your home computer, be careful how you use your computer since an abuser might become suspicious. You may want to keep using the monitored computer for innocuous activities, like looking up the weather. Use a safer computer to research an escape plan, look for new jobs or apartments, bus tickets, or ask for help.
Email and Instant/Text Messaging (IM) are not safe or confidential ways to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life. If possible, please call a hotline instead. If you use email or IM, please use a safer computer and an account your abuser does not know about.
Computers can store a lot of private information about what you look at via the Internet, the emails and instant messages you send, internet-based phone and IP-TTY calls you make, web-based purchases and banking, and many other activities.
It might be safer to use a computer in a public library, at a community technology center (CTC) at a trusted friend’s house, or an Internet Café.
The above information provided by the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
If you must use a home computer, follow these safety tips:
- Do not store passwords automatically, and change your password or passwords often.
- Delete e-mails and files.
After emailing, delete all e-mails from the “Sent” or “Outbox.” Also be sure to empty the Deleted Items folder. In some email programs, you can change the setting so that it won’t automatically keep a copy of sent emails in the Sent folder. Check your mail system Help files for info on how to do this.
When you delete a file, it remains in the Recycle Bin or Trash Can on your machine. Be sure to empty the Recycle Bin before shutting down the computer. Make this part of your regular routine, so it’s less likely to arouse suspicion.
- Remove evidence of the sites you’ve visit
Whenever you use the Internet, three types of info leave traces of information on your computer:
Cookies — info that a site drops onto your hard drive whenever you visit that site. For example, if you visit a shopping site, they may leave a cookie that tracks what you shopped for. This will help them offer you other things that might interest you next time you visit.
Temporary Internet Files — when you visit any website, the site downloads information about the page, including graphics, audio files and videos, on your computer in a temporary file. This helps the page load more quickly the next time you visit.
Browsing or Search History — your computer keeps a list of all the websites you visit, every time you search online.
All of this information could be found by your abuser. Every time you use the Internet, be sure to clear any cookies, temporary Internet files, and your browser history. For more help, check your system’s operating manual or Help files.
Thanks to the Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project for the information above.