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Web Safety

Computers store a lot of information about the sites you visit, e-mails, instant messages you send, web based phone calls you make, online purchases, banking and many other activities. If you are worried that someone might check what you are looking at or doing on this computer, don’t use it to get help and advice. Instead, use a computer in a library, internet café, or a trusted friends house.

Warning: if you are worried about someone knowing you have visited this website please read the following safety information.

How can an abuser discover your internet activities?

Computer spyware is becoming very easy to purchase and install on home computers. You may think that you are safe to access a home computer, not knowing that what you do is being tracked. Perpetrators of domestic abuse are increasingly using spyware on home computers to track and intimidate their victims. Women with computers in their home need to be aware of the possibility that spyware may be downloaded on their PC, laptop or on their children’s computers.

What is spyware?

Spyware is computer software that can be installed surreptitiously on a person’s computer without their consent. The person who has installed  the spyware can then access the computer remotely from another computer, and can monitor information input into that computer e.g. the user’s visited web pages, emails, keystrokes etc.

Is it possible to tell if the computer has spyware on it?

It is often not possible to tell if the computer has spyware on it. A person being abused may realise that their abuser is using spyware because the abuser knows information that would be difficult to find out by any other means.

What should a person do if they suspect that their computer has spyware on it?

  • Use a computer at a public library or an internet cafe if you suspect there is any possibility of your abuser monitoring a home computer.
  • Do not use home computers to raise any suspicion or give information to the abuser e.g. researching websites about domestic abuse, sending revealing emails to friends and family
  • Do not look up websites about removing spyware as this will raise suspicion
  • Do not attempt to remove the spyware as this will raise suspicion (also, the spyware could be used in evidence against the abuser in a court case)

Stalking

Stalking is one of the most frequently experienced types of abuse – and contrary to common belief, most stalkers are former partners or friends of their victims. According to the British Crime Survey, nine per cent of women and seven per cent of men reported having been stalked in the last year, and just under a quarter of women (23%) reported having experienced stalking since the age of 16. Obscene or threatening phone calls or letters were the most common types of stalking behaviour experienced. (BCS 2005/06)

Victims of stalking can gain protection under either the civil or the criminal law through the Protection from Harassment Act 1997:

They may also be able to gain protection via an injunction under the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004. Since 1st of July 2007, the definition of “associated persons” under section 4 of this Act has now widened to include some abusers who have never lived with their victims; and at the same time, the provisions of section 1 have made breach of a non-molestation order a criminal offence.

Anonymous registration for electoral roll (June 07)

Victims of stalking and domestic violence can now benefit from new legislation which is designed to protect people at risk if their details appear on the electoral register. Those at risk can apply to their local authority in England and Wales to be registered anonymously while still being able to vote.

Please take a few minutes to read the warning below and follow the steps to increase your safety when visiting this website.

As a rule, internet browsers will save certain information as you surf the internet. This includes images from websites visited, information entered into search engines and a trail (‘history’) that reveals the sites you have visited. Please follow the instructions below to minimize the chances of someone finding out that you have visited this website.

Internet Explorer

Click on the Tools menu and select Internet Options. On the General page, under Temporary Internet Files, click on Delete Cookies and then OK. Click on Delete Files, put a tick in the box labelled Delete all offline content and click OK. Under History, click on Clear History and then OK. Now look at the top of the window and click on the Content tab, select AutoComplete and finally, Clear Forms.

Google Chrome

Click on the three small dots at the top right of the screen. Choose History from the menu, then History again. This will load a page where you can choose to delete some or all of your browsing history.

Firefox/Netscape

Click on Tools and then Options, then click on Privacy. Click on the Clear button next to Cache and Saved Form Information.

Opera

Click on Tools and then Preferences. Click on the Advanced tab and then the History section on the left-hand side. Click the two Clear buttons and the Empty Now button.

Deleting your browsing history

Internet browsers also keep a record of all the web pages you visit. This is known as a ‘history’. To delete history for Internet Explorer and Netscape/Firefox hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard, then press the H key (Ctrl, Alt and H for Opera). Find any entries that say www…………….., right click and choose Delete.

E-mail

If an abuser sends you threatening or harassing e-mail messages, they may be printed and saved as evidence of this abuse. Any email you have previously sent will be stored in Sent Items.

If you started an email but didn’t finish it, it might be in your Drafts folder. If you reply to any email, the original message will probably be in the body of the message – print and delete the email if you don’t want anyone to see your original message.

When you delete an item in any email program (Outlook Express, Outlook, Thunderbird etc) it does not really delete the item – it moves the item to a folder called Deleted Items. You have to delete the items in Deleted Items separately. Right-click on items within the Deleted Items folder to delete individual items.

Toolbars

Toolbars such as Google, AOL and Yahoo keep a record of the search words you have typed into the toolbar search box. In order to erase all the search words you have typed in, you will need to check the individual instructions for each type of toolbar. For example, for the Google toolbar all you need to do is click on the Google icon, and choose “Clear Search History”.

General security

If you do not use a password to log on to your computer, someone else will be able to access your email and track your internet usage. The safest way to find information on the internet, would be at a local library, a friend’s house, or at work.

All of the above information may not completely hide your tracks. Many browser types have features that display recently visited sites.

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