Posts Tagged ‘digital security’

Human rights defenders in Pakistan in targeted campaign of digital attacks

May 17, 2018

Activists in Pakistan are under threat from a targeted campaign of digital attacks, which has seen social media accounts hacked and computers and mobile phones infected with spyware, a four-month investigation by Amnesty International reveals.

In a report titled ‘Human Rights Under Surveillance: Digital Threats against Human Rights Defenders in Pakistan’, released on Tuesday, 15 May 2018, Amnesty reveals how attackers are using fake online identities and social media profiles to ensnare Pakistani human rights defenders online and mark them out for surveillance and cyber crime.

We uncovered an elaborate network of attackers who are using sophisticated and sinister methods to target human rights activists. Attackers use cleverly designed fake profiles to lure activists and then attack their electronic devices with spyware, exposing them to surveillance and fraud and even compromising their physical safety, Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International, said. “Our investigation shows how attackers have used fake Facebook and Google login pages to trick their victims into revealing their passwords. It is already extremely dangerous to be a human rights defender in Pakistan and it is alarming to see how attacks on their work are moving online,” he said.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/240689/investigation-uncovers-sinister-hacking-campaign-targeting-activists-in-pakistan/

https://reliefweb.int/report/pakistan/pakistan-human-rights-under-surveillance

 

For some of my other posts on Pakistan see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/pakistan/

Citizen Lab at big RIGHTSCON in Toronto

May 12, 2018

 RightsCon, held this year in Toronto from 16 – 18 May 2018, brings together an international audience to discusses all topics related to human rights in the digital age, such as surveillance, AI, censorship, access to the internet, etc. Citizen Lab researchers, fellows, and associates will be participating in panels and events throughout the week.Citizen Lab is the organization that helped Ahmed Mansoor with his iPone spyware in 2016: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/08/29/apple-tackles-iphone-one-tap-spyware-flaws-after-mea-laureate-discovers-hacking-attempt/.
 on 11 a run-down of topics and where you can find them:

Session name Citizen Lab participant(s) Date Time Room location
Artificial Intelligence: Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems and Peace Time Threats Ron Deibert Wednesday, May 16 14:30 – 15:45 206B
Access My Info: Exposing Disconnects Between Data Protection in Theory and in Practice Masashi Crete-Nishihata, Chris Parsons, Bram Abramson Wednesday, May 16 16:00 – 17:00 200C
Do We Need Free Speech Legislation like We Need privacy Laws? Moses Karanja Wednesday, May 16 16:00 – 17:00 201A
Scrutinizing the Little Brothers: Corporate Surveillance and the Roles of the Citizen Consumer and Company Chris Parsons Wednesday, May 16 17:15 – 18:15 203B
Crypto Wars Revisited? Hosted by the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic & Citizen Lab Wednesday, May 16 17:15 – 18:15 206C
Who Did it? Why We Need an International Cyber Attribution Organization to Address Nation-State Attacks in Cyberspace Ron Deibert Thursday, May 17 12:00 – 13:15 200C
Access My Info: Running a Personal Data Access Campaign Andrew Hilts Thursday, May 17 14:30 – 15:45 200A
Disappearing Space, Disappearing Voices: How the Chinese Government & Big Tech are Silencing Tibetans Online Masashi Crete-Nishihata Thursday, May 17 16:00 – 17:00 203B
Understanding Freedom of Expression in Southeast Asia: Internet Freedom and Online Censorship Irene Poetranto Thursday, May 17 16:00 – 17:00 TBA
Coders Free Speech Rights in The Americas at Risk Sarah McKune Thursday, May 17 16:00-17:00 201C
Journalism Free Expression and Digital Security Masashi Crete-Nishihata Thursday, May 17 17:15 – 18:15 205A
Beyond Security Updates: Providing Relevant, Accessible, and Sustainable Digital Security Advice Online Christine Schoellhorn, John Scott-Railton Thursday, May 17 17:15 – 18:15 201C
The Surveillance Tool We Love to Carry: Cell Phones, Searches, and Privacy in the Evolving Legal Landscape Lex Gill, Jon Penney Thursday, May 17 17:15 – 18:15 204A
How to win the privacy/surveillance debate Jon Penney Thursday, May 17 17:15-18:15 206A
How does the Kremlin Manipulate the Russian IT Industry to Exert Control over the Internet Ksenia Ermoshina, Jakub Dalek Friday, May 18 9:00 – 10:15 203A
A Technologist, a Policy Wonk, and an Internet Advocate Walk into a Bar: Assessing how Internet Communities Build Bridges for Human Rights Moses Karanja, Masashi Crete-Nishihata Friday, May 18 10:30 – 11:45 200A
My First Transparency Report Bram Abramson, Chris Parsons Friday, May 18 10:30 – 11:45 206A
What have We Learnt about 5 Years of Internet Disruptions in Africa? Moses Karanja Friday, May 18 12:00 – 13:15 201A
Tech Against Terrorism – Respecting Human Rights in Tackling Terrorist Exploitation of the Internet Irene Poetranto Friday, May 18 12:00 – 13:15 201B
Frontiers of Feminist Issues Online: Understanding the Tensions and Opportunities at the Intersection of Innovations, Digital Rights, and Security Irene Poetranto Friday, May 18 14:30-15:45 203A
Have We Entered a Brave New World of Global Content Takedown Orders? Jon Penney Friday, May 18 16:00 – 17:00 206C
CLE: Ethical Duties in the Digital Age: Encryption Done Dirt Cheap Sarah McKune Friday, May 18 16:00-18:00 206A
Online Anonymity: Key Lessons & Emerging Threats Bram Abramson Friday, May 18 17:15 – 18:15 200A
Chilling Effects, Surveillance, and the Future of Automation and the Law Jon Penney Friday, May 18 17:15 – 18:15 TBA
Big Brother is Really Watching: Digital Surveillance & Gender-based Violence Irene Poetranto Friday, May 18 17:15 – 18:15 206D

For previous event see: https://citizenlab.ca/2016/02/citizenlab-partners-rightscon-2016/

Bikes and digital power for human rights defenders in Africa

April 27, 2018

Africa remains a continent of contrasts, also with regard to human rights defenders. Just to illustrate:
(1) Bikes for human rights defenders: Girls Empowerment Network (GENET) in Malawi has donated 30 bicycles to child protection groups in Dowa district to assist in its ongoing girl child protection programs. Speaking in an interview with the Malawi News Agency Mana after giving out the support at Kayembe Primary school, GENET Programs Officer, Twambilile Kayuni said their organization thought of providing the support as one way of easing transportation challenges among girl child protection groups in the area. “As GENET, we thought it critical to ease the challenge of transport among our village child protection groups so that when any violence has happened to a child they should be able to rush to the scene and take action“. She added that the bicycles have been given to all schools in the area, human rights defenders, mother groups, Area Development Committees (ADCs) and chiefs in order to assist in their child protection duties in a more coordinated manner…Group Village Headwoman Siwinda said:”In my area many girls were being forced to marry but now with the coming of GENET through COMIC relief and OXFAM Malawi things have changed and as of now many girls have gone back to school,” said GVH Siwinda.

Snowden claims his Haven is safe

December 28, 2017

US whistle-blower Edward Snowden has helped create an Android app designed to protect the possessions of journalists and human rights defenders. The software uses sensors – including a phone’s camera, microphone, gyroscope and accelerometer – to detect intruders tampering with someone’s possessions. It is open source, meaning its code can be inspected. It is designed to be used on a “second” smartphone that can be left with the possessions a user wishes to monitor. The app was created as a joint venture between The Guardian Project and Freedom of the Press Foundation, of which Edward Snowden is board president.

Haven turns any spare android phone into a safe room that fits in your pocket,” claims Edward Snowden. In an age where our digital security is at more risk than our physical security, Snowden claims that Haven will change the game of cyber surveillance.

Here’s how it works: once you install the app, it uses the smartphone’s in-built equipment, like cameras, light sensor and microphones, to monitor for any motion, sound or disturbance of the phone. As explained by WIRED: “Leave the app running in your hotel room, for instance, and it can capture photos and audio of anyone entering the room while you’re out, whether an innocent housekeeper or an intelligence agent trying to use his alone time with your laptop to install spyware on it.” Alerts can be sent to your phone, via SMS, Signal or to a Tor-based website.

You shouldn’t have to be saving the world to benefit from Haven,said Snowden, though the app’s primary users are meant to be investigative journalists, human rights defenders, and other people at risk of forced disappearance.

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/09/29/edward-snowden-can-still-not-collect-his-awards/

——-

https://video.scroll.in/862821/watch-nsa-whistleblower-edward-snowdens-app-turns-your-phone-into-a-physical-security-system

https://www.thequint.com/tech-and-auto/tech-news/edward-snowden-data-privacy-haven-app-android-released

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-42493028

DefendDefenders launched new security manual for human rights defenders in Africa

May 9, 2017

On 5 May, 2017, at the NGO forum preceding the 60th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) launched “Stand Up!”, a new organisational and personal security manual to help human rights defenders (HRDs) do their work in a safe and effective manner.
DefendDefenders was founded to protect HRDs from immediate risks. However, a decade of experience has taught us that much can be done to prevent them from reaching this critical point,” said Hassan Shire, Executive Director.By carefully considering their safety, developing strong security plans, and rigidly adhering to them, even HRDs working in extreme conditions can mitigate the risk they face as individuals and organisations.” “Stand Up!” helps defenders to reduce the risks inherent in achieving their goals. They can use it to better understand the opposing and supporting factors in their environment, identify their vulnerabilities, and create new capacities to stand up to adversity.
 
Book One covers personal, physical, and organisational security planning. HRDs can learn the essential framework for security analysis and planning as well as the support mechanisms available at the regional and international level for human rights defenders.
 
Book Two covers digital security for electronic devices, and online accounts and communications. It extends the lessons of security management into the digital realm with risk assessment of electronic workspaces and the essential steps to secure human rights work when it is conducted from phones, computers, email, websites, social media accounts and more.
Download the full manual here.
 
At the same time, the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network (PAHRDN) also launched its annual “State of African HRDs” report, which examines the major events affecting the freedoms of association, assembly, and expression in the last year. The report is compiled with input from PAHRDN’s five sub-regional networks and is available in English and French.

Ahmed Mansoor, MEA Laureate 2015, arrested in middle-of-the-night raid in Emirates

March 21, 2017

Ahmed Mansoor’s whereabouts are unknown © Martin Ennals Foundation

On 20 March, 2017, around midnight, Mr. Ahmed Mansoor was arrested at his home in Ajman, UAE, by a large team of the Emirates’ security forces. The Government has finally confirmed that it is holding him, but until today we don’t know where. The reasons for his arrest remain unknown but might be linked to a series of tweets he posted on Twitter in recent days, calling for the release of UAE human rights defender Osama Al-Najjar or to a letter that he signed, along with other activists in the region, calling for the release of all prisoners of conscience in the Middle East ahead of an Arab League Summit scheduled to be held in Jordan on 29 March 2017.

Following a massive crackdown on human rights defenders in the UAE in recent years, Ahmed Mansoor is today widely respected as the only independent voice still speaking out through his blog and Twitter account against human rights violations from inside the country. He was the Laureate of the Martin Ennals Award 2015. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/10/07/the-link-to-the-full-mea-2015-ceremony-of-6-october/]. Mr. Mansoor has faced repeated intimidation, harassment, and death threats from the UAE authorities or their supporters, including arrest and imprisonment in 2011 following an unfair trial. Although pardoned and released later that year, the UAE authorities have arbitrarily imposed a travel ban on him. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/09/15/fly-emirates-if-the-emirs-let-you/]

In August 2016 Ahmed Mansoor was at the centre of a hacking scandal involving Apple’s iOS operating system [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/08/29/apple-tackles-iphone-one-tap-spyware-flaws-after-mea-laureate-discovers-hacking-attempt/]

Sources:

UAE: alarm at middle-of-the-night arrest of leading human rights activist | Amnesty International UK

http://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/urgent-interventions/united-arab-emirates/2017/03/d24255/

International Women’s Day 2017: honoring, defending and watching women human rights defenders

March 8, 2017

International Women’s Day focuses on many different aspects of the struggle for the human rights of women. I have selected three special actions this year:

(1) a short piece honoring woman who are land rights defenders;

(2) a digital protection tool for women human rights defenders (Cyberwomen);

(3) a documentary film on how rape was made into a international war crime.

[Of course this blog has had many earlier posts on women human rights defenders: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/women-human-rights-defenders/ ] Read the rest of this entry »

WEBINARS on best practices for digitising documents in March 2017

March 7, 2017

Why digitise? Digitising your documents greatly improves access to your information, whether you are building an online public library to share documents related to corruption, or making documents searchable for your team. Digitisation also helps to preserve and protect important human rights information. Many defenders run the risk that malevolent groups seeking to destroy or confiscate witness testimony, evidence of abuse, and other sensitive information. Others run the risk of documents being subject to harmful storage conditions, such as humidity, insects, and rodents. These are just a few reasons for digitising your documents. However, figuring out the most efficient, affordable, and responsible way to digitise thousands of documents can be a daunting task especially for human rights defenders in the field.

  • When:
  • Where: ReadyTalk (use the access code 2458641 to join)
  • Who: Open to anyone who wants to learn more about digitizing documents

Whether you are a seasoned digitization expert or a human rights defender just starting to think about digitisation, this is a good occasion to learn and share.

If you are interested, please contact Kristin Antin at kristin@huridocs.orgHere is an example of a webinar hosted in January on managing contact information.

Source: Community Discussion: Best practices for digitising documents | HURIDOCS

Security Without Borders offers free security help to human rights defenders

January 10, 2017

Network World of 3 January 2017 carried an interesting piece on Claudio Guarnieri who launched Security Without Borders which offers free cybersecurity help to journalists, activists and human rights defenders.

For all the wonderful things that the internet has given us, the internet also has been turned into a tool for repression. Nation states have deep pockets and use the imbalance to their own advantage. Technology has been used “to curb dissent, to censor information, to identify and monitor people.” ..Billions of dollars have been poured into surveillance—both passive and active.”Sadly, electronic surveillance and censorship have become so commonplace that nowadays people can get arrested for a tweet. There are places were dissidents are hunted down, using crypto is illegal, where sites are blocked and even internet access can be cut off. “Those who face imprisonment and violence in the pursuit of justice and democracy cannot succeed if they don’t communicate securely as well as remain safe online.”

Security “is a precondition for privacy, which is the key enabler for freedom of expression.” He was not implying that the security should come from big firms, either, since big security businesses often need contracts with the government and are dependent on the national security sector. So, Guarnieri turned to the hacker community and launched Security Without Borders, which “is an open collective of hackers and cybersecurity professionals who volunteer with assisting journalists, human rights defenders, and non-profit organizations with cyber security issues.”

security without borders

The website Security Without Borders has a big red button labeled “Request Assistance.” Activists, journalists and human rights defenders are encouraged to reach out for help. The group of “penetration testers, malware analysts, developers, engineers, system administrators and hackers” from all walks of life offer cybersecurity help. We can assist with web security assessments, conduct breach investigations and analysis, and generally act as an advisor in questions pertaining to cybersecurity. As security services are often expensive to come by, SWB offers these services free to organizations and people fighting against human rights abuse, racism, and other injustices.

When requesting help, you are asked to give your name or organization’s name, an email address, a description of the work you do and what kind of help you need. Hackers and computer security geeks who support freedom of speech are also encouraged to reach out and volunteer their skills.

There is still on-going discussions on the mailing list on issues such as trust and where to draw the line for extending free help to specific groups. Security Without Borders is just getting off the ground, and will have to deal with some of the same problems that earlier efforts in this area face, see e.g:  https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/08/25/datnav-new-guide-to-navigate-and-integrate-digital-data-in-human-rights-research/ and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/10/31/protecting-human-rights-defenders-from-hackers-and-improving-digital-security/

Sources:

Security Without Borders: Free security help for dissidents | Network World

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/hacker-claudio-guarnieri-security-without-borders-political-dissidents

Pakistani Digital activist Nighat Dad recipient of 2016 Human Rights Tulip

November 6, 2016

The 2016 Human Rights Tulip has been awarded to the Pakistani internet activist Nighat Dad stated the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs today, 6 November 2016.

Human Rights Tulip
Human Rights Tulip Photo: Aad Meijer/Newsroom BZ

The Human Rights Tulip is an annual prize awarded by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to human rights defenders who take an innovative approach to promoting human rights. The prize consists of a bronze sculpture (see picture above) and €100,000, which is intended to enable recipients to further develop their work. [for last year’s award: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/12/12/2015-human-rights-tulip-awarded-to-ira-mauritania/]

Human rights defenders are modern-day heroes,’ said minister Bert Koenders ‘Despite the many threats she has received, Nighat Dad continues to fight to improve adherence to human rights in Pakistan in a unique and innovative way. Ms Dad is a pioneer who is working to remove everyday obstacles to internet access, especially those that affect women.

Ms Dad is a staunch defender of digital rights and the importance of protecting women and girls and marginalised groups on social media. Mr Koenders hopes that this prize will serve as a gesture of support for the freedom of internet users, especially women. In 2012 Ms Dad founded the Digital Rights Foundation, which supports female internet users in the form of digital security training courses, public awareness campaigns and the newly created Cyber Harassment Helpline. Ms Dad’s approach enables her to reach women throughout Pakistan, including those in more remote areas of the country. She was awarded the Atlantic Council Digital Freedom Award 2016 and was among six ‘next generation leaders’ named by TIME Magazine last year.

Foreign minister Bert Koenders will present her with the prize on Saturday 10 December, Human Rights Day, in The Hague.

For earlier posts on the Tulip award: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/tulip-award/

Source: Nighat Dad recipient of 2016 Human Rights Tulip | News item | Government.nl

http://www.dawn.com/news/1294671/pakistani-digital-rights-activist-nighat-dad-awarded-2016-human-rights-tulip-award