Online Resilience Clinic

Online Resilience Clinic

Warning Sign  This page includes information and stories that some users may find distressing due to describing instances of domestic and family abuse and violence.

Device Safety

Perpetrators often use mobile devices to manipulate and monitor their victims without their knowledge. It is important to do everything you can to minimise the risk of someone using your phone or other devices to harm you.

Before proceeding to the other modules, we recommend you read the following information to ensure your device is safe from prying eyes. This information outlines the minimum recommendation to keep your device secure and accessible to only yourself.

Q1: Is it safe to use your phone in your house?

A perpetrator may keep a close watch on you when using your phone by sitting right beside you or somewhere they have visibilty of the phone screen.

There are a number of options to ensure you are safe to use your phone:

  • find a safe room that can be locked
  • go to the bathroom
  • go for a walk
  • go to a public library

Q2: Are you the only one with access to your phone?

Without any security features to stop others from accessing your device, friends, partners and family members can access your private information, keep track of you, or in the worst cases steal your sensitive information for use against you.

Steps to prevent others from accessing your account:

  • Use a strong password or code to keep your phone locked.
  • Do not use the names, birthdays or other personal information of yourself or anyone in your family.
  • Ensure the password used for your phone is not the same password you use on any of your other accounts.
  • Do not share your password with anyone.

Q3: Are all the applications on your phone there by your choosing?

Perpetrators can install applications on your phone that look like normal applications: at first glance, but are secretly monitoring your phone activity. Follow the steps below to ensure the integrity of your applications: 

  • Check your phone’s settings to ensure that other devices aren’t connected to your phone and that Bluetooth and location services are limited or turned off.

  • Pay attention to excessive battery usage as this can indicate a program may be in use on your phone constantly.
  • Look for spikes in data usage – these may indicate that monitoring software, such as spyware, may be in use.
  • If your phone allows applications to be downloaded without a password, ensure you are aware of what each app does; if you don’t use it or don’t know what it is, delete it.
  • How to Detect and Remove Spyware From an Android device
  • How to Remove Spyware from an iOS device
  • Applications make it easy for you to log into your email, banking and social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and so on. You can hide these apps so the perpetrator cannot see them if they gain access to your phone. More information is available here 

    iPhone life: How to hide apps on the iPhone and find them later

Q4: Is your profile the only one on your phone?

Have you noticed unusual online activity on your phone? This may include emails and texts that have been sent or marked read, but not by you, or financial transactions you don’t remember making. It could be as simple as you being locked out of your accounts because your password has been changed. Perpetrators can monitor your device use is if they have access to your account. If their name is on the account, they may have the ability to turn on features, such as family location services, or they may be able to access your billing records online to see your call logs and other information.

Q5: Have you turned off location sharing?

Do others seem to always know your location?

Location stalking is a way to see where someone is throughout the day, so it’s a good idea to identify which apps have access to your location and make sure you want them to have that information. Check to make sure that you don’t have apps running in the background that are pulling your location and publishing it online. The person monitoring you may have access to that account or may have installed an app with that feature without your knowledge in order to determine your location.

  • Turn off location settings and services on your phone and devices. Make sure this is also applied to your children’s devices as well as yours, especially if your partner has given a device to them as a gift. Do not leave locations services switched on all the time.

  • Stop using your device or leave it at home – If you think your abusive partner is tracking your location through your device, leave the device at home as often as you can, particularly if you are going to a support agency, lawyer, friend or to the police for help. Trust your instincts on this.

  • Below are some links to instructions on how to turn-off device sharing for different devices:

6. Do you clear your browsing history?

Clearing your browser history is one of the many things you need to do to ensure your safety online and keep your information and communication away from your abuser. Your internet browser, such as Safari, Google Chrome and Firefox, keeps track of all the sites you visit. If you’re visiting sites such as this one that contain potentially sensitive information you should delete your browsing history after each session. The way to delete your history is different for each browser. Information on how to clear the history on your browser can be found on the relevant browser company’s website. Below are a few ways to help clear your browser fast with the use of extensions. Learn how to do it and practice doing it after every session.
  • For Chrome desktop, here is an extension you can use on your desktop for a quick deletion of your download and browsing history.
  • To be able to use Chrome extensions on your Android phone, click here for instructions. Once installed, you can now download the quick exit extension on your phone.
  • Firefox browser comes with a built-in Forget button, which wipes out browsing history from your selected time frame without affecting the rest of your information.
  • The Quit option on Android is available only when you’re willing to clear some of your browsing data on exit such as cache, tabs, and history.

Tap the menu button, and then Settings

In privacy and security section, click Delete browsing data on quit

Enable Delete browsing data on quit and select at least one type of data to clear

The quit option will appear in the menu