Please note that your computer use can be monitored and it is impossible to completely clear your internet history. If you are in danger, please use a safe computer that others cannot access, and call your local domestic violence hotline and/or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.
You will find additional information on technology safety at http://www.nnedv.org/internetsafety.html.
An Overview of Internet Security
Please remember that there are ways others can access your email and find out where you have been on the internet. It is impossible to hide all your tracks. There are hundreds of ways that computers record everything you do on the internet. Therefore, when seeking legal information, please try to use a safe computer. For example, you may wish to use a public terminal at a library, community center, or domestic violence organization. There is a national directory of community technology centers at www.ctcnet.org.
Safety When Using Email
Can people other than me access my email account?
Maybe -- there are a number of ways others could have access to your email account.
If you share an email account with someone, they will be able to read any of the emails in your account.
If you use a program like gmail or yahoo, your email may come right back up when someone opens your browser unless you properly log out of it. Just closing your browser is not enough - you must log out.
If you use Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, or a similar program to check your email, anybody who has access to your computer can read your email.
If you check your email on the internet, someone can access your email account if they know your email address and password. Also, some people have their computers set up to save their email address and password for them. If your computer has your email address and password saved, anyone with access to your computer can read your email.
Also, most computers now have a function called "AutoComplete". When AutoComplete is on, as soon as you begin to type something -- a website in internet Explorer, for instance, a credit card into an online form, or several other items -- a little box will appear, listing things you've typed in before. If AutoComplete is on, others can access your email account.
If you believe your email account is secure, make sure you have a password that is not easy to guess. Pick a password that does not contain obvious information like your name, birthday, social security number, pet's name, since people you know could guess your password. It may also be a good idea to change your password often. For many email programs, you can change your password by clicking on OPTIONS then on CHANGE PASSWORD. If you need more information, go to your email account, then click on HELP for further instructions.
Do not write your password down. Do not set your computer to save your username (email address) and password. Your computer may ask you if you want to save your password after you enter it. Make sure to click on "no".
When you are finished using your email, always log out or sign out. If you do not hit "log out" or "sign out", your email account may still be open, even if you close the window.
How do I know I am sending email from my account when I click on a link?
As you are browsing the internet, you may come across an email address that you can click on -- something that looks like this: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you share a computer with another person and click on an email link, you may be sending the email from that person's email address. This could put you in danger, since whoever you wrote to might write try to write you back -- but will be writing to the other person's email address instead.
It is safer to copy the email address and paste it directly into a new message in your email account.
Safety when Browsing the Internet
Can other people see what websites I have visited?
Yes. There are a number of different ways others can tell what websites you have visited.
* Your computer automatically saves a list of pages that you have visited in your history and cache files.
* Your computer may save copies of some of the pages you have visited in a temp file.
* Some websites save cookies to your computer, which can show some of the sites you have visited.
* If it has AutoComplete, your computer may save things you have typed into your web browser.
* Spyware on your computer may keep track of where you have been on the internet and who you have sent email to.
It is impossible to completely hide your tracks. Many browser types have features that display recently visited sites. The safest way to find information on the internet is at a computer that is public.
If you are concerned for your safety, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-779-SAFE (7233) or (TTY) 1-800-787-3224.