Saturday, May 18, 2013

Advice for PEN and Activist: IT security

In Krakow at the International PEN and ICORN meeting a seminar in internet security was given by a Syrian IT-er. That was an eye opener for me. So just a few pointers and encouragement to dig a bit further. Most people have had the same password for years and use it for all their accounts. That is not very wise if you're an activist working around sensitive subjects or if you are corresponding with people in danger. 
Governments read your facebook or what it worse facebook shares your, our information with other parties and hands over your accounts. They keep deleted accounts for at least ten years. Also don't use outlook if you don't secure it. Firefox and Chrome have more security features than Safari I am saddened to say. Try at least to work over a HTTPS site. Then the message is encrypted and the governments spying on their civilians can only see who send what to whom, but cannot read the content of the message. Do take this into account and create more safety in your social networking and activism. It is not only about freedom of expression but also about privacy of expression in cases you this is needed.
In Firefox you have an add on: HTTPS Everywhere, which it is easy to install. Be very aware of security issues corresponding with friends in Syria, with writers in exile.
And, yes this one is a challenge for me as well, create a strong password, figures, symbols strange words all in combination. Most passwords can be cracked in a day or so. Yet adding all of the above it can take 996 years. And do read and understand the End User License Agreement (EULA). It will tell you whether you will be informed if a government has asked for your information.
There is more, but for most of us, this is a good start in awareness of internet security. Protect your correspondence with the people you're trying to help: prosecuted writers, writers at risk, writers in prison... writers in China.

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