Your activities on the internet can be tracked by somebody who wants to control you or find out what you’ve been doing online. The suggestions below can help you cover your tracks as you use the internet. Please remember that none of these suggestions can protect you completely and you may want to use more than one suggestion.
- Use a computer that people you know don’t have access to. You can go to a public library or community centre and use a computer where other people can’t easily see the screen.
- Clear your internet browser’s cache and history list to erase information about the websites you’ve visited. Internet Explorer, Modzilla Firefox and Google Chrome are examples of common browsers. The Assaulted Women’s Helpline provides steps on how you can erase your cache and history list.
- Be careful about email. You may use a web-based account like Gmail or a program on your computer, such as Microsoft Outlook. Email programs can be set up to download from a web-based account. A password-protected web-based account can help you keep emails secret. If you use an email program on your computer, there are ways to delete emails permanently. But any email can be sent to the wrong person or get redirected or copied without your knowledge. “Keystroke” software can also be installed on your computer to record everything you type. So you may choose to avoid sending emails with information you don’t want others to read.
- Choose effective passwords for your email account or any action you do online, such as online banking, email and Facebook. Avoid passwords that are easy to guess, such as your name or birthday. Effective passwords are usually longer than 8 characters; use both uppercase and lowercase letters; use numbers and symbols; and don’t include dictionary words or common names. Use different passwords for different online accounts, keep them safe and private and change them every so often. You can use an online “password generator” to create a strong password, such as the one offered by PC Tools. You can also test the strength of your passwords through online tools, such as the one offered by Microsoft.
- If you contact an organization for help, you can ask about their policies on collecting your information and keeping it private. You can tell them you’re concerned about privacy. It may be safer to call or visit an organization than email them.
Shelternet provides more information about internet and email safety.
Social media safety
Many people and organizations use social media like Facebook and Twitter to communicate. So do we. But there are specific safety considerations you should know about to maintain your privacy when using social media.
- Check your Facebook privacy settings to make sure you’re comfortable with the information other people can view about you. Check them often because Facebook won’t always inform you about changes to its privacy features. Lifehacker keeps an up-to-date guide on how to manage your privacy on Facebook. It’s also important to “friend” only people you trust and be careful what you post on other peoples’ pages as comments can be found in Google results.
- Twitter has information on how to keep your account safe. It’s important to be careful about Tweeting personal information because you may not always know the people who are following your account.
- Google+ can also be configured to increase your safety and safeguard your information.
- If you use social media and email on your smartphone, it may keep you logged into your accounts all the time. Consider using a hard-to-guess password to be able to get into your phone. You can also uninstall and remove applications that keep you logged into your accounts.
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Internet Explorer 7 includes a zoom which allows you to enlarge the whole browser window. You can access it by clicking the control and plus buttons (Ctrl+). If you are using Firefox version 1.5 or later, you can open the “View” menu to increase the text size. The Web Accessibility Initiative’s website provides more detailed information on changing text size and colour.
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Other images from The Noun Project: "Urban Farm" by Edward Boatman, Elizabeth Salud, Christine Geronaga and Chris Jerde; "Equilibrium" by Allan Berry; "Gavel" by Connie Shu; "Projection Screen" by John Caserta; "Apple" by James Pellizzi; "Dialog" by Dima Yagnyuk; "Question" by Henry Ryder; "Share" by Anand A. Nair; "Clipboard" by Seth Taylor; "Calendar" by Nathan Driskell; and "Stamp" by Franco Marino Cagnina.