All of your activity on the web and all of the websites you visit from your computer, phone or tablet are stored. This means that anyone using the same computer, phone or tablet can see which websites you’ve visited. By, for example, deleting your browsing history, you can hide your tracks to make it more difficult to see which website you’ve visited. Note, however, that someone who is familiar with computers can go in and see that the browsing history is deleted. If you want to be absolutely sure that no one knows what websites you’ve visited, you should use a computer outside of your home – at the library, at school, at a friend’s house or at an internet café.
There are a few ways to reduce the risk of someone who has access to your computer, phone or tablet being able to see what websites you’ve visited.
Most web browsers have a list of recently visited pages, which is referred to as the browsing history. You can see which sites were visited by clicking on History in the browser. The way of doing this differs slightly depending on which web browser and version you are using. A web browser is a program you use to open websites on the internet. Examples of common browsers are Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari. If you’re not sure which browser you’re using, you can usually check this by clicking on one of the icons at the top of the browser window.
Click on the browser you use to go to their website for more information on how to delete your browsing history:
Computers have a special file which automatically saves websites and graphics to make it faster to load different sites on the internet. Looking at this cache file will give you information on websites that were visited recently.
Click on the browser you use to go to their website for more information on how to clear your cache:
Cookies are small text files that websites store on your computer to save information about you and your settings. Cookies enable a website to remember you and automatically apply the settings you selected. By looking at the cookies saved on your computer, someone can see what websites you’ve visited.
Click on the browser you use to go to their website for more information on how to delete cookies:
For most web browsers, cookies and the browser’s cache are deleted when you follow the instructions for clearing your browsing history. After clearing this history, it is a good idea to restart the browser to make sure nothing is left.
Many web browsers have something known as private browsing which prevents your web traffic from being saved in the history, cache and cookies. Google private browsing + the browser you use to read more about how to activate this.
Other important things to think about:
– A browser may have an add-on that causes everything done in the browser to be copied to a cloud service. Examples of cloud services are Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud. If you have an iPhone and connected the phone with Safari web browser to the computer though AppleID, you can see the same history in the phone as on the computer. Other browsers may have the same capabilities in different ways and through different services.
– Routers (both wired and WiFi) may be capable of logging which domains/websites were visited. A router is a network unit that is used for internet access and can connect several computers. The services are mainly meant to enable parents to protect their children, but they can be used for other purposes.
– If you use a computer at the library or the like, you need to be careful about logging in with your Google account, for example. Tracks can then be left in their services (e.g. YouTube). If someone else knows about your account and can access it on another computer, that person can also see the history of the account.
Read more about how to surf safely here.