Ukrainian journalists and activists could face hacker attacks on their accounts and devices. We have taught civil society to protect themselves from online threats.
From March 29 to April 2, the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law, Initiative Center to Support Social Action “Ednannia”, and the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research, in partnership with the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) and the Digital Security Laboratory, conducted a series of webinars Digital Security for Public Activists. Each of them was attended by more than 50 representatives of the NGO sector.
The organizers have prepared this series to teach public activists to work safely on the Internet, avoiding hacker attacks and other threats in accessible ways. After all, for civil society organizations, e-mail, social media and messengers are usually the key means of communicating with the world.
Therefore, the loss of access to them directly threatens the work of CSOs (in addition, attackers can steal data and use it to the detriment of the organization). At the same time, unlike the business sector, most NGOs do not have access to specialized software to protect themselves against attacks.
So the Digital Security Lab experts spoke at lectures about the main digital threats that public activists may face – and explained how to ensure the security of their online accounts, respond to threats, and use publicly available protection tools. For example, participants learned that telephone conversations and text messages are an insecure way to communicate, phishing messages can be sent on Instagram, and activists and journalists are hacked not only by e-mail but also by messengers.
And since defense tactics are chosen on a case-by-case basis, the knowledge was consolidated during practical tasks: here the activists themselves had to find phishing messages or check the quality of their own password. There were a total of 5 webinars:
The first one, “Digital Security – Basic Approaches”, brought together 97 participants and was introductory. The lecturers explained how to arrange their own digital security and what threats Ukrainian journalists and public activists have already faced.
The second workshop focused on threats to online accounts. Here the participants were told about the most popular ways to hack them, such as phishing attacks, and worked out ways to protect themselves from them. 62 participants passed this training.
The third seminar became a logical continuation of the topic: it was about protecting accounts. Students learned how to check whether their data was “leaked” into the public domain, how to set up account security (for this, the lecturers showed step-by-step instructions, using a Google account as an example).
In particular, they talked about two-factor authentication, ways to restore access to the account and the check on which devices your accounts are open. 65 public activists took part in the seminar.
“Safe Communication”: in this part, they talked about safe communication online and means of protection, in particular in messengers. The lecturers explained why it is so difficult to choose the “most protected” of them. They also told 54 participants how each user can ensure the security of their accounts.
The last seminar focused on the topic of device protection. Experts told how to protect computers and mobile gadgets from physical hacking and hacker attacks. The also told about storing important information on devices. The seminar was attended by 53 participants.
This event took place as part of the projects: INSPIRES, implemented by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), and the Ukraine Civil Society Sectoral Support Activity, implemented by the Initiative Center to Support Social Action “Ednannia”, the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR), and the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law (CEDEM). This event was made possible through the sincere support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).