First aid kit against cyberterrorism

July 10, 2014

Those who express themselves critically on the web are increasingly becoming victims of cyber terror. To protect (civilian) journalists, bloggers and activists, the Digital Defenders Partnership and a number of other organisations have devised the world’s first digital first aid kit. By using this kit, you can learn what actions are necessary if you are the target of a cyber attack.

In recent months, the worldwide struggle on and for the Internet has become increasingly fierce. Reuters states that 21 of the 25 major news organisations have been victims of state-sponsored hacking attacks.  Individual Internet users must also contend daily with such threats.

But it’s not just about virtual attacks. According to Reporters Without Borders, there are currently at least 351 journalists and netizens behind bars. For example, in June 2014 the Bahraini Twitter user Takrooz, known and loved for his satirical tweets, was arrested. The Bahrain security services repeatedly sent him infected links, through which they traced his IP address and found out his identity.

A recent example from Thailand shows just how authoritarian regimes think of creative ways to nip criticism in the bud. People who try to access certain blocked websites are instead sent to a spurious Facebook app built by the military police to hack into accounts and spy on what Facebook users are doing. The military regime actually gave advanced warning of their espionage. “Be careful, we’ll soon be your friend,” said a spokesperson.

When faced with a digital emergency—whether someone has hijacked your social media account or your website is being DDoSed—it can be difficult for non-technical people to discern what the problem is and what the appropriate next steps may be for seeking help. To help fill this niche in the universe of privacy and security guides, a group of NGOs ( including EFF, Hivos and its Digital Defenders Partnership, Internews, VirtualRoad, and CIRCL) teamed up to write a guide that combines advice for self-assessment with advice for “first responders” to help non-technical users all over the world identify and respond to their digital emergencies

The digital first aid kit is an initiative dedicated to Internet safety. Because this guide is a living document, it is available on github under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike International license. The tool will be constantly updated by internet security experts.