Using the Internet More Safely
We like to say it’s important to practice “Safe Surfing”! If you are using a computer, tablet or smartphone to learn more about domestic violence and help, you should be aware that your searches and browsing history can be monitored by others. If that concerns you, here are important steps you should consider taking.
Use Someone Else’s Devices
The safest way to learn about domestic violence and ways to get help is by using someone else’s computer, tablet or smartphone, such as those available at a workplace, public place, or belonging to friends and family and away from your abuser or household. This decreases the likelihood that an abuser would discover your interest in finding resources and help.
“Leave Site” Button
If you are using personal devices to visit doemsticshelters.org, clicking on the “Leave Site” button in the upper right hand corner will redirect you to google.com, in the event you’re surprised by someone and need to quickly change what you’re viewing. On mobile the “Leave Site” button is the “X” icon located at the top of the website.
Delete Search History
If you conduct searches using Google, Yahoo, Bing or other search engines, it is important to know that these services learn your search tendencies and make future suggestions based on your prior queries. Thus, someone using the same computer and browser may come to realize what types of information you have been seeking. Learn how to clear your search history after each session at Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Most web sites drop “cookies” into your computer; they are small files that hold a modest amount of data that help tailor the use of a web site during future visits, such as pre-populating fields to save you time. Here you can learn how to delete cookies on your computer.
Keeping Your Smartphone Safe
Your smartphone is essentially the same thing as your computer. This article contains excellent ideas that prevent others from accessing information on your smartphone. You should also consider deleting browsing history, cookies and search history from your phone.
Keeping Your Email Media Accounts Safe
There may come a time when you need to reach out to a service provider for help, such as a domestic violence program or a legal services organization. On our GET HELP page, part of the contact information that we provide includes email addresses. Keep in mind that if you send an email with details about your situation or if you ask for help, the abuser may be able to locate that email in your sent folder and any response you receive in your inbox. Be sure to:
- delete your email from your sent folder;
- delete any email you receive in response; and
- “empty” your deleted items folder as well.
A safer way to contact an organization electronically rather than email could be to go to our GET HELP page to find a contact form available. This way, there would be no trace of your email in your sent folder. However, be sure to carefully monitor your inbox to look out for the reply and delete the message and empty your deleted items folder once you have read it.
What are basic safety measures to take when using social media?
Here is a list of some things you can do to try to stay safe:
- For any account that you create, use a strong password that no one could figure out and keep it private.
- Limit the amount of identifying information you use, like your birth date, address, full name, etc. (This step can also help prevent identity theft.)
- Be careful about what you post! Consider the articles you post to your profile, the pictures you put in an online album, or any status updates that indicate where you are at the moment (such as “checking in” at a restaurant) or where you are headed (such as a vacation destination). These types of posts can reveal a lot about you: your interests, your whereabouts, and your future plans, which can lead to someone finding you.
- Log out of your account by clicking “log out” after each session on your social media page. Do not simply close the browser, as it does not always log you out of your account, which would then be viewable by any other user of the computer.