Depending on how you use the internet, you may leave clues about yourself and what you do online. If other people and organisations have access to your computer or devices, and they know where to look, they may be able to find these clues. In the wrong hands, this may lead to an increased risk of abuse.
For example, it may be financial risk, especially if banking passwords are compromised. Or if you are frightened of an abusive partner or ex-partner, or experiencing domestic and family violence, it may lead to a heightened risk of physical abuse.
Whether these risks are apparent or not, it's important to be mindful of them whenever you use the internet and take extra precautions to ensure your actions cannot be tracked online.
Exit this site quickly
If you can't access a safe computer or device and are worried that someone may see you on this website, click the Quick Exit button to quickly open Google in the same window. The Quick Exit button can always be found in the top right-hand corner of your browsing window.
Please note that clicking the Quick Exit button will not delete your browser history. For tips on how to delete your history or to visit websites in private mode, please read on.
These are some of the steps you may want to take to connect to the internet more safely:
Browse the web in private mode
Private browsing is a way to see websites and not have your computer remember which sites you've searched for or visited in your search history. For guides on how to turn on private browsing in the most popular web browsers, Google this search term: 'How to browse the web in private mode'.
Manage your cookies
Cookies are tiny bits of software added to your computer by the owners of websites you visit. To increase your safety and privacy when browsing the internet, you can turn off or delete cookies. To turn off cookies in your web browser, go to the settings or tools menu in your web browser and delete your cookies manually at the end of a session. Alternatively, you can set up your browser to do it automatically.
Know when to use a safer computer or device
If you are worried that someone might see what you are doing on your computer or device – for example, by looking over your shoulder while you are online – the only way to browse safely may be to use another, safer computer. Computers at public libraries, community centres, or those belonging to a trusted friend or family member may be safer to use.
Spyware is software deliberately installed on your computer to help others see what you do and what is on your computer. Read more about what might tip you off to the presence of spyware and what you can do to protect yourself against spyware.
Cover your tracks
If you forget to browse the internet in private mode, there are still steps you can take to stop others seeing the websites you've visited.
Simply delete your browser history to remove the addresses (URLs) of the websites you have visited. To find out how to do that on your computer, Google this search term: 'How to delete my browser history'. Alternatively, you can go to the tools or settings menu and, if your browser offers it, turn off search and page history. Look for a setting called ‘never remember history’ or ‘clear history when closing browser’.