Glitter Meetup Notes Before March 26, 2020
March 26 2020
We dedicate this Glitter Meetup to the Virtual Community Cultivation.
- We see various challenges about cultivating community online:
- Internet connectivity: expensive data with bad internet infrastructure
- Diversity and bringing in new communities. The face to face is so important to both welcome and also onboard new folks.
- The lack of human touch. The video and chat become one dimensional no matter how many emojis you use.
- Defaulting to commercial, vender-lockin, surveillance-capitalistic tools because they just work.
- Maintaining momentum in conversations/activities due to delayed responses (caused by any number of things)
- Getting everyone on the same comms platforms.
- Creating real-time virtual events to mimic physical meetups as much as possible. Collaborating virtually, but not at the same time is very different than having the same convo at the same time.
- Creating opportunities for networking, spontaneous conversations, meeting new people. You can have a group call, but it's hard to create an online space for those random side conversations and collaborations that happen at conferences.
- Impostor syndrome. Usually requires a confidant to help you enter a new circle, but that's so much harder online.
- During this pandemic, it is hard for folks to stay connected due to different challenges:
- bad connectivity and high costs.
- mental health issues as depression, anxiety or impostor syndrome.
- a lot of folks have been forced to use online conference tools for the first time and they don't know how to use them.
We have work during the meetup to bring solutions to some of these challenges:
- Problem: being lonely in your home and not having the possibility to just walk over to a co-worker and have a small chat.
- An always open audio channel might help. Keep your side on mute, unless you want to share something and anything you share will be shared with the entire team.
- Another option is to have a bullshit/meme/random channel in your preferred chat client where you can dump random ideas and laugh about the others.
- Problem: increasing community engagement.
- Having standing meetings (like the coffee break) that have no real agenda, but ensure volunteers, team members etc. have a designated time to communicate.
- In the absence of physical meetings with colleagues, having video calls.
- Incentivizing participation with a reward system or by making community members accountable for something - like a task or project to report back on...
- IFF is hosting the following community knowledge shares next week: 1 hour workshops lead by folks in the community that happen on zoom. They are interactive and more visual that this btw. You have to RSVP as they ar capped at 25. They are:
- Constructing Feminist Tech through Fiction (April 2): https://internetfreedomfestival.formstack.com/forms/cks3
- Online Facilitation: Captivating Your Remote Teams and Meetings (March 31): https://internetfreedomfestival.formstack.com/forms/cks2
- The IFF is looking for presenters so if you are interested, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
COVID-19 Community Updates:
- The government of Karnataka state (where Bangalore is) released a massive list of everyone under home quarantine. No names, but physical addresses down to door numbers, travel history, and period of quarantine. They expect neighbours to police errant individuals. The Excel sheet was widely distributed over WhatsApp, so it's everywhere now: https://www.medianama.com/2020/03/223-privacy-karnataka-addresses-coronavirus-quarantine/
- Emergency powers are starting in places like Thailand and Phillipinnes, which is just a signalling of major abuses of power by government: https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2020/03/25/2003372/transparency-needed-covid-19-fight-not-penalties-false-info-groups-say
- Here is a research on disinformation and influences during the 14th General Election in Malaysia: https://datasociety.net/library/securitize-counter-securitize/
March 19 2020
- IFF launched a A virtual calendar of events: https://internetfreedomfestival.org/wiki/index.php/Calendar_of_Events and have daily checkins, kinda like virtual coffee, everyday at 10am EST / UTC-4 here AND a virtual workshop series called Community Knowledge Share, which are capped at 25 people, and we are looking for folks that want to be presenters!
- Venezuela blocking a coronavirus information portal: https://vesinfiltro.com/noticias/bloqueado_portal_coronavirus_AN
- Brazil currently has a current diplomatic crisis with China because the President's son is spreading hate speech.
- openIDEO is collecting designs that can change people's bahaviour and stay safe
- Several members of the Taiwanese community and Citizen Lab joined this week's glitter meetup to talk about Misinformation, COVID and China.
- China has been using misinformaiton of COVID19 against taiwanese citizens.
- Citizen lab published a report on how Chinese social platforms are controlling COVID-19 information. They state that censorship started at early stage of the outbreak and is broad in scope.
Citizen Lab looked at two applications YY (a popular live streaming app) and WeChat for YY. They have been tracking keyword lists it uses to censor content since2015. Anytime the lists change CL gets a copy. They found that YY added 45 keywords related to the then unknown virus on dec 31 the same day that Wuhan Health Commission made the first public announcement on the outbreak WeChat broadly censored coronavirus-related content (including critical and neutral information) and expanded the scope of censorship in February 2020. Censored content included criticism of government, rumours and speculative information on the epidemic, references to Dr. Li Wenliang, and neutral references to Chinese government efforts on handling the outbreak that had been reported on state media. They continue to monitor both platforms and will have updates coming soon.
- YY got directives at early stage of COVID19 to censor information. This is so the Chinese government could control the narrative. For the broad scope of censorship on Wechat it's not clear if this is a product of direct government guidance or indirect pressure leading WeChat to over censor. CL has seen WeChat broadly censor during other critical events like the National Communist Party Congress and the Death of Liu Xiaobo. On WeChat for example you can't say 美国疾控中心” (US Centers for Disease Control) and “冠状病毒” (coronavirus) in the same message. Very general content that could potential impair citizens ability to access and share basic health info.
- China is changing the channels it uses to spread misinformation. They are experimenting as time goes on. At 2018 the main disinformation attacks can be found on
Facebook fan page posting content from content farm but due to the change of Facebook guideline they are now spreading through the personal page and comment of celebrty's facebook fanpage. The key concept of China's censorship is to keep everything stable and under control. They are afraid that not controlling the information will let people question their capacity and authority. In fact, in the epidemic there was a period of time that the first sentence of China's national anthem was banned on WeChat after the first whistle blower died because of covid-19. The lyrics is Arise, ye who refuse to be slaves
- Researchers have also found Youtubers collaborating on a certain political issue to create misinformation, and then spreading it through close group chatting like Like app.
- Chinese government has tried to shift concerns their citizens have of COVID19 or shape public opinions. For example, in one series of attacks, they are trying to reassure that COVID-19 is less serious than "USA flu" which is a real term they used
- Worst yet, the misinformation had been translated into Japanese and Korean on Twitter after the outbreak in this 2 countries.
- China now is shifting the narrative that China is doing better than all Western democratic countries. A narrative that Chinese government successfully protected their people while U.S. and Europe governments do nothing affective and the world is learning from China's model against COVID-19
- Taiwan is performing well in containing COVID-19 while using many technologies and policies without clear authorization from laws. There is concern there will be violations of privacy and emergency action that will be permanent. e.g. tracking cellphone signals to investigate where confirmed and suspected cases go and in contacts, linking immigration data to national health ID card, banning teachers, students, doctors and nurses go abroad, will publicize the names of those who violates the travel bans. So far, they have taken thee following steps to combat Covid-19:
1) link citizen's travel records database to health insurance database (over 90% medical institution are under health insurance system, and let medical institute search their patients' travel records.
2) link all quarantine person's data to police surveillance system to let police can check people on the street.
3) request quarantine people's phone location and phone records to control where they are and who they contact with, or even tracking their phone location in real time.
4) force people to use real-name to buy masks
- Chinese groups are being discriminated worldwide.
- Some steps recommended to help racism:
1) Speak up at all and any hate speech you see. We can't even for a minute allow people to think its okay to say racist shit in public spaces
2) Find ways to support folks online that may be targeted.
3) Correct anyone that calls it Chinese Flu etc.
March 12, 2020
- This week featured guest was Giovanni from Globaleaks, the lead developer. They can be found on Mattermost @evilaliv3. Interview is below.
- Karen Reily is going to start working on a comparison of virtual tools. She mentioned that accessibility tools like transcription are better with Windows. If you would like to help, contact here: @akareilly_she-her
- Coffee & Circumvention Argentina is questioning whether they should put the monthly meetups on hold because of COVID19
- Amnesty Tech just published an investigation on digital attacks against Uzbek activists : https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2020/03/targeted-surveillance-attacks-in-uzbekistan-an-old-threat-with-new-techniques/ (short blog post with Uzbek and Russian translation https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/03/uzbekistan-new-campaign-of-phishing-and-spyware-attacks-targeting-human-rights-defenders/ - This campaign is part of a pattern of digital attacks on activists and journalists working on Uzbekistan (Amnesty reported similar attacks in 2017) This group as many other is using a phishing toolkit that bypass SMS and authenticator code as Two Factor authentication, Amnesty encourages everyone to move to hardware keys (like solokeys or yubikeys) as much as possible If you know any activists from Uzbekistan, please share the info, Amnesty is trying to raise awareness on such attacks in this community. If you have question, please contact @tek directly on the Mattermost.
- Localization Lab is looking for more translators to help with the Briar User Manual, OONI Probe and Psiphon
- During this meetup, we interviewed Giovanni Pellerano (evilaliv3), current lead developer for the GlobaLeaks project! Globaleaks is an open source software developed for making it possible for journalistic sources to contact journalist in a safe manner preserving their anonimity and confidentiality of the communication. It is currently available in 30 languages. It has been developed singe 2011 by a worldwide group of users with differnt experiences and the development is actively lead by the Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights, an italian NGO.
- Globaleaks is about to release their 4.0 version, which will feature:
- Implements encryption by default. This means that Globaleaks now generates and uses automatic keys to protect information shared. Users just need to access with their secure passphrases and the system automatically encrypt and decrypt data for them. They do not have to manage their PGP keys etc. - The encyption protocol they are using is one they researched for 5 years with the Open Technology Fund, and is similar to the one implemented by Minilock. The set of algorithms used are safe for use and are currently top selection: Elliptic curve criptograpgy, Argon2. The advantage of this is that now the software encrypts every communication including the metadata.
- Globaleaks has been developed since 2011 by a worldwide group of users with different experiences. The development is actively lead by the Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights, an italian NGO. GL development is lead directly since always by the interest of its users. Since the project start journalist, whistleblowers, developers, translators has formed strong sinergy collecting every possible feedback and dring those into a flexible software roadmap.
- We briefly discussed the difference between GlobaLeaks and other tools like SecureDrop. Giovanni explained that SecureDrop and GlobaLeaks are great collaborators, and both started from the same worldwide community of experts dealing with this topic. In fact, during the same year the projects were started, Giovanni was strongly collaborating with Aaorn Swartz on a side project called Tor2web, and both came to the same solution: it was a good idea to interconnect something like a form to Tor to provide anonymity to journalistic source. Then the two project diverged serving different users with different threat models. Giovanni states that as a matter of history, they started at the same time, and had the same ideas, and the projects were similar in e each component in the start. Then the two project diverged serving different users with different threat models
- Securedrop is considered the top secure software to be used for national security level threats but for this reason it is static, inflexible, unconfigurable and requires more resources in terms of know how, hardware and money (e.g. the hardware costs is around 4000$) Essentially, its much harder to setup. GlobaLeaks is built to cover a wide range of threat models and for this reason it is highly configurable. You can somehow put it on similar architectures, configure it with the best secure configurations and it becomes somehow as secure as SecureDrop. It also enable to be configured to work over HTTPS (without Tor) to serve other less risky scenarios. For these reasons, GlobaLeaks can be used by very small organizations with low tech saviness and 0 resources (it works on a VPN with a cost of 34$ an year). It also can be configured to work over HTTPS (without Tor) to serve other less risky scenarios. Essentially, It is widely used in scenarios where, without it, people would be using a simple Wordpress instance without HTTPS.
- Giovanni shares: "I make always this example to make people understand the difference. Think as Securedrop as a software that put a barrier high, in terms of security. Considering the barrier immodificable, you will be able to defend only the most serious problems, but users not able to deal with the technology wont use it and would result not protected. GlobaLeaks instead put the barrier in between, enable to raise it or to lower it in a controlled manner. This way depending on the configuration can protect any scenario,"
- SecureDrop is currently run by large news media organizations that have a high budget, and can hire a full-time CTO. GlobaLeaks is instead run by a diverse user base, and in many cases by journalists themselves. Also, in Globaleaks, has encryption by default, where in SecureDrop, PGP keys are managed directly by users.
- SecureDrop and Globaleaks collaborate a lot together, and have deep respect for each other. They constantly share improvements and knowledge with each other.
- Slack Channel: https://slack.globaleaks.org/
March 5, 2020
After making the hard decision of cancelling the 2020 edition of the Internet Freedom Festival because of the increasing spreading of the COVID-19, we gather with the community to answer questions and shape future editions and other ways to work together during the year.
Our decision was easy, once we knew that we had to protect our community.
- information sharing and coordination was key in our decision making process. Early in February, when the outbreak started reaching other countries, i began reaching out to other risk managers / safety friends who were working other global gatherings. mainly, i wanted to learn / know how other groups were managing the risk assessments. i started to track many of the conference cancellations and by mid-february, i knew that we had some hard decisions to make.
- the overriding principle for us to ensure that our participants were safe at the IFF, safe during transit, and safe going home.
- when the cases in valencia increased, we knew that it was impossible for the virus to be contained and it would’ve severely impact our community, many of whom are freelancers or coming from organizations without institutional support.
Brainstorming about the IFF community work through the year:
- Use an online conference website that allows for self-organize style...so i was thinking we can test out having a 2 hour self organize style online where people can do breakouts, and then report out back to the community. But it would be capped at x people.
- A monthly community report, where folks can share changes/developments in their regions, but also thought they have about direction of community.
- Try to better empower local hubs, and potentially do something fun between cities. Like for example, maybe two cities can meet at same time, and we create stations in each, where people can just go pu to the computer, and talk to folks in the other city.
Resources and Ideas:
- We discussed different possibilities for presenters and participants and the challenges that people with high security level faces during webinars.
- Virtual Conference: https://unhangout.media.mit.edu/
- Tips on how to organize a virtual event: https://www.ictworks.org/coronavirus-cancel-conference/#.XmEM4pNKjBI
February 27, 2020
What is GlobaLeaks
- GlobaLeaks is a software based on Tor intended to enable journalistic sources to report anonymously to journalists. It is as well used in the anticorruption field and to protect sources in general.
What about the installation?
- As any opensource software it is build and designed to be installed as a personal tool on a personal infrastructure. In addition to this the software nowadays make it possible a hosting organization to safely provision a platform as a service to other organizations. This is working well empowering anticorruption NGOs to provision the software to their partner organizations.
- In this sense small organizations can rely on the knowledge and the infrastructure of more structured organizations.
GlobaLeaks is used all over the world
- Transparency International italy using this model is supporting 1000 public agencies building anticorruption mailboxes
- Thanks to the localization lab community the software is translated in more than 30 languages so far
- For the new release coming very soon (GlobaLeaks 4) they are calling translators to translate the news strings
- GlobaLeaks-based platform are accessible via the Tor browser using an onion link guaranteeing digital anonymity: https://www.opentech.fund/news/taking-anonymous-online-whistleblowing-global/
How or why was Globaleaks started. Meaning, what pushed forward the development?
- In 2011, the teamwere really impressed by many stories of relevant whistleblowers facing serious troubles due to their reports. They identified the need for a tool empowering defending people willing to report malpractices of society. It was the time of DataLeaking; working on this we discovered that some organizations like Transparency International and Privacy Concern At Work were already supporting this "heroes" with analogic and improper tools.
- As technologist they worked on trying to renew this tools providing digital secure tools to fight the same causes.
- Many revelations take time to be processed because legal procedures takes places and last longer.
- They are aware of important cases of reporting and currently not aware of any retailiation due to the use of their technology. EU for example is going to be well regulated and offers more legal protections in this sense
- In the Engaging Citizens in Anti-Corruption Mechanisms report published by TI in 2019, the research finds that factors influencing people’s decisions to report corruption include, among other factors, perceived credibility, safety and accessibility of the mechanism. The report notes that ‘people will not act against corruption if they think the mechanism will put them at risk.’ Other research has shown that the accessibility of safe, confidential and digital platforms, particularly mobile and online platforms, allows for greater reach among women and vulnerable groups in reporting corruption cases."
Enigmail developer is looking for opportunities.
February 20, 2020
- Myanmar Digital Rights Forum: https://www.digitalrightsmm.info/
February 13, 2020
- Today Russian court fined Twitter and Facebook for not moving their servers to Russia: https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/02/13/russia-fines-twitter-and-facebook-63000-each-over-data-law-a69280
- PBS Frontline just published a documentary about Hong Kong Protests: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/battle-for-hong-kong/ (but might only allows in Northen America region)
- Malaysian gov recently actively arresting and charging/fining people who post/spread false information about coronavirus. Last update was 2 days ago, someone in east Malaysia got fined about MYR5000 and one reporter was arrested and on bail now.
- Check this article, written by one of our fellows, about guidelines to create digisec policy and best practices for small scale organization: https://www.opentech.fund/news/guidelines-creating-digital-security-policy/
February 6, 2020
- VPN users being tortured in Kashmir: https://www.vpncompare.co.uk/vpn-torture-kashmir/
- For the Tor users on Fedora/CentOS/RHEL, we now have official packages from the Tor Project https://support.torproject.org/rpm/
- People run Tor relays on different Linux based operating systems, but, mostly Debian/Ubuntu could directly install Tor package from the Tor project itself, now, people using Fedora or CentOS or RHEL can also get the latest and greatest version of the Tor directly from Tor itself.
January 16, 2020
Our feature guest is Tek, a security researcher working for Amnesty Tech on digital surveillance against Human Right Defenders. He is also a research fellow at the Citizen Lab. Today we are going to talk to him about his article: Targeted Attacks Against Civil Society (https://www.randhome.io/blog/2019/12/02/targeted-attacks-against-civil-society-what-is-new-in-2019/)
What are targeted attacks?
- We call targeted attacks, malware of phishing attacks targeting people for the sake of gathering information on them, so there is no intention of getting any money (like cyber-criminal attacks such as ransomware would do), but monitor their activities. This type of attack is not new, first reports about such attacks against civil society date back to 2008 and the report on Ghostnet targeted the Dalai Lama office in India.
- Historically, it started with a lot of emails with malware attached to them, either documents using vulnerabilities to install a malware of just a malware pretending to be a document (and sometime opening it). These attacks are still happening, like in Azerbaijan a few years ago https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2017/03/False-Friends-Spearphishing-of-Dissidents-in-Azerbaijan/
- But more and more people started to use documents in the cloud, on Google drive to others. So the attackers started targeting more and more the mailbox with phishing email. These attacks are way more easy because you do not need a malware, just copy a login page on a fake domain and record the password when the user enter it.
- Citizen Lab wrote about this change in tactics in 2016 against Tibetan communities https://citizenlab.ca/2016/03/shifting-tactics/ and it is something we see very regularly now, like in Egypt last year https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2019/03/phishing-attacks-using-third-party-applications-against-egyptian-civil-society-organizations/
- And lately we are investigating more and more more advanced attacks done using malware and exploits sold by companies like NSO group. Citizen Lab wrote about it for the first time in 2016 https://citizenlab.ca/2016/08/million-dollar-dissident-iphone-zero-day-nso-group-uae/ and we have investigated attacks using NSO group recently in Morocco https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2019/10/Morocco-Human-Rights-Defenders-Targeted-with-NSO-Groups-Spyware/
- These attacks are targeting smartphones with very advanced techniques, often using 0-day exploits that costs a lot of money. These attacks are more rare but also very dangerous because they are able to compromise smartphones with little or no user interaction. (There is today a court hearing going on Israel for a petition asking the Israeli MOD to revoke NSO Group export license, see https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/01/israel-court-nso-case-behind-closed-doors/ )
Has 2019 witness more attacks against civil society than in previous years?
- Yes, especially because of the discovery of attacks against Uyghurs and the WhatsApp hack by NSO on which we got a lot of information thanks to WhatsApp / FB. But it is hard to say if it is that we know more or if there are more.
- We have a lot of knowledge on the attacks in some regions (like Tibetan activists, or Mexico) because of work done there, but there are still areas (like South America) where we have very little knowledge.
So what has changed recently?
- First, there are a lot of phishing attacks targeting online accounts and they get more complex in two ways: first they regularly use OAuth authentication. OAuth is a protocol that allows an external application to get access to your Google/Facebook/Outlook account for different reasons, it is for instance the protocol that is used when you login into a website with your FB/Google/Twitter/Other account. What is dangerous with that is that it is pretty different from other phishing attacks, and it is easy for people to fall into it. (read more about it here https://guides.securitywithoutborders.org/guide-to-phishing/oauth-phishing.html )
So we aren't able to know if the attacks have been increasing but we can confirm that the methods are getting more complex
- We don't know what we don't know, so it is hard to factually prove that there are more attacks. We are seeing more advanced attacks by groups like NSO, with 0-day and no-click attacks, but the vast majority of attacks are still not very sophisticated and using techniques that have been there for a while and are cheap (like fake google domains)
What are some of the new attacks that you have witnessed during 2019?
- On phishing, something we have started to see in 2019 is using phishing kits that are bypassing most forms of Two Factor authentication. Two Factor Authentication is having another authentication method beyond your password, it is often a token given by SMS, by a smartphone app (such as FreeOTP, or Google Authenticator) or a hardware key.
- Modern phishing kits are using a technique to relay the request to their fake website to the real platform and this bypass all forms of two factor authentication, except hardware tokens. It is thus important to promote more hardware keys like Yubikey or Solokeys
- This is pretty new, but there are now open source phishing kits doing that, and most of the phishing attacks we see today are bypassing most forms of second factor.
- And there is like a gap between companies selling very advanced tools (NSO has 500+ employees), and some government paying hackers with average technical skills to send phishing to activists. The first one is more advanced, harder to fight against, but also more rare, and most of the attacks we see are the second case.
You talk about attacks bypassing 2 factor Authorization, and the need to move towards hardware token for 2fa Where can you purchase this hardware? If folks can’t afford it, are there are places where they may be able to get it for free?
- There are different organizations doing hardware tokens, the most used are Yubikeys, Solokeys and now Google is making their own Titan keys
- Several organizations are providing some to activists for free, we try to bring some when we are doing a security training. You often get some at events like IFF.
Now that we know more about the attacks and their complexity: What entities are leading malware creation/execution?
- It really depends on the context of the country, we see some countries like Russia or China developing skills of targeted attacks in the country, they even have often several groups in charge of different types of attacks (companies or activists).
- In many other countries, they are not able to do that, and they rely on buying the malware and tools from companies like NSO Group, Hacking Team, FinFisher etc. These companies are mostly based in Europe (often in Italy) or Israel.
- And they are often involved in a broader surveillance ecosystem, with companies like NICE (an american company) reselling and installing tools from other manifacturers
what are new threats you see coming in the future?
The trend is :
- More phishing attacks
- More attacks on smartphones
- Development of very sophisticated attacks used in some countries, but most attacks are still going to use techniques that are not very sophisticated (such as phishing or backdoored android applications)
Have you seen cyber attacks against relatives/partners of those who work in this space?
- There is one case in Mexico reported by Citizen Lab where they targeted the son of a prominent journalist https://citizenlab.ca/2017/06/reckless-exploit-mexico-nso/
Some HRA uses external sites to 'upload' evidence and content to and then delete/remove it from their own devices. Are there certain places that keep content safe from these attacks?
- Uploading sensitive data from a server and removing from the phone can be really useful for instance for crossing borders, or during protests, but if the phone is compromised before, the attackers may be able to monitor the phone activity before it is uploaded and remove from it.
How to get psychologists involved? Have you achived any positive results on this way? Any word of advice?
- This attacks are mostly not about digital means of protection but psychological ones. ("How can I distinguish that someone's trying to use me? How can I see what vulnerabilites of mine are most likely to be used by bad guys?") We discovered that digital things (such as 2FA) simply didn't work in some situations and we needed some assistance from psychologists to work with people.
- We have seen many cases where attackers used quite low-level attacks but they were combined with very good knowledge of the political context and good social engineering skills. There is definitely more work to be done to understand how to explain phishing and help people react to social engineering and I have not seen many psychologists involved in it, it would definitely be interesting
- Is some good work being done and developed to improve security trainings and make them more into adult training, so maybe there are psychologists involved in it (https://level-up.cc/ )
As a UX designer, how can we make this information help the design community build safer, informative tools for HRA's? Designers are typically the first line of defense and play a good role in informing/protecting users of stuff like this!
- developing ways to explain these attacks better are definitely needed more. A good example of some work done in that area is the phishing quizz developed by Google https://phishingquiz.withgoogle.com/
- There are many different directions to fight against these attacks. One of our approach is to make forensic knowledge more easily available to tech people supporting human right defenders. It is very common to have people think their device is compromised and we did not have any good methodology to check if it really was. So with Security Without Borders, we have developed a guide to help with that https://guides.securitywithoutborders.org/guide-to-quick-forensics/
It is pretty easy on Windows and Mac, but harder on smartphones, so we are trying to find better techniques and tool to do that on smartphone
Regarding to the malware spreading on Telegram during HK Protests. There's anything we can do? Like a bot that can filter those or identify those...?
- We have seen malware being shared on chat applications a lot, but mostly privately, HK is the only case where malware was shared on a group chat. It would be definitely possible to develop a telegram bot to monitor chat groups, and it could be an interesting way to identify attacks, but you have to monitor the right groups.
Do you see people reusing different malware/exploits in different campaigns in different countries?
- Yes often. There are two different cases for malware, it can be either malware from a company like FinFisher or a malware that is open source or sold on the black market.
- Sometimes, we see some private tools shared by groups that are related to different country that we cannot explain.
- Exploits we see are very often public exploits, so they are reused because they are available on Internet
January 9, 2020
For this Glitter Meetup, we have a feature guest: Tamara, one of the Community Builders of the 2020 IFF. She works on emergency assistance for activists and journalists around the world.
Is harassment online a real problem for women journalists? can you explain a bit about this? Where it happens? Why it happens? And are there any populations or areas of the world this happens more than others, or is it global?
- Yes, online harassment is a real problem for journalists, but even more so for female journalists.
- As a female journalist she has faced online harassment based on gender many times, may it be from comments under her articles, or from online audiences during panels that she was speaking on, etc. Back then, she thought that perhaps she was doing something wrong or that she should simply not pay attention to this and not be too soft.
- Five years ago she started working on emergency assistance, and over 40% of their casework covers journalists. And of course, they face all sorts of threats. Arrest, murder, you name it. But. A lot of times the harassment/ threats/ insults start online. The thing is that journalists often don’t take those seriously. Female journalists in particular often think that this just comes with the job.
- The harassers don't discriminate, in every region there are plenty of them. There is a difference however with regards to who the harassers are. So, for example, in Eurasia and MENA regions, we have seen more government and troll factory-based harassers of female journalists, in the US it is more from certain conservative groups, etc. But if we look at the specific areas of coverage. Number one, at least according to some of our data at the emergency assistance program is corruption reporting. Then come issues, such as migration, LGBTQI.
- Troll factories are literally offices where people are hired to sit and search online space for content and comment in order to create fuss, or harass someone, etc. In Azerbaijan, for example, troll factories are used to harass female reporters, opposition, but also simply to 'express love for the president and their family'. Being a troll is a paid job sometimes, also in some countries students of state-funded universities or state employees are forced to be trolls for free (or they lose school placement, or their job)
- Also, female journalists, especially if they write opinion pieces, are way more often scrutinized with regards to their expertise (e.g. 'do you really have expertise to write about this?') and therefore are being threatened.
- One participant added that some of their coworkers often express that they are tired of comments and threats to them just because they are women, specially when they do articles or investigations with the conflict that Colombia still living between guerrillas, drug lords, etc.
- Report done by IWMF on the topic: https://www.iwmf.org/attacks-and-harassment/
Many folks here are digital security trainers, or provide digital security support. what advice can they give to women journalist they may be assisting who may be experiencing this. what can be done
- First and foremost it is important that female journalists don't normalize online harassment and recognize that there is a threat. The problem with online threats that I have seen in the past five years of my work is that they usually escalate. For example, if at first someone is telling a female journalist that she is a liar and she therefore deserves to die, then eventually a physical attack from this person, or from others who were 'inspired' by this harasser follows.
- Now, in terms of what digital security experts can advise. When online harassment happens and even in other instances, female journalists need to first of all take care of their own security. We usually recommend that they talk both to digital and physical security experts.
What tools or sites you recommend to find more info about Online Security for female journalists?
- Getting in touch with Frontline Defenders' digital experts, or Access Now, or, smaller digital security and physical security expert groups, such as, for example, people from Tbilisi Shelter in Georgia.
- One participant added that FLD, Access Now, etc. are great advices for the majority of human rights defenders and independent journalists but there should be something more specific when it comes to female journalists and online threats.
- IWMF, CPJ, Amnesty have some good resources on their sites. But there aren't enough groups that deal with online harassment in general, and especially online harassment against women regionally. For example, in the North Caucasus in Russia where such attacks have happened, and very little to no local support is available.
Are there any gender-specific advices on (say) guidelines, recommendations, anything to read? watch online?
- With regards to steps: 1. stop your current work and focus on addressing your security situation 2. if you work full time as a reporter, your management is your first call. If you are a freelancer, speak to your immediate support network (your fellow reporter friends, civil society groups inside your country that help journalists and female journalists in particular) and then speak to groups that support journalists (happy to help connect if needed), such as Acos Alliance, Rory Peck Trust, CPJ, RSF, Freedom House, Frontline Defenders, Civil rights defenders, etc. 3. Develop a security plan. Female journalists often have dependents in their care, such as minors or parents. Make sure your security plan includes them. 4. Your security plan has to cover your digital presence (such as, don't checkin on IG and FB, don't post personal info, contact white pages (or whatever address book alternative in your country) and ask them to take down your address, etc. But it also has to include psycho-social and physical security components. Such as, don't take your usual route to work. Checkin more frequently with your children, etc. (this sounds scary and somewhat unnecessary at times, but it is vital) 5. If the harassment includes exposure of any content with regards to you online, develop a plan re how to eliminate that content (contacting social media platform, mobilizing a support network. in some cases, even take legal action). 6. If things escalate, we usually recommend temporary relocation. as disruptive as it sounds to your life, it is sometimes needed to avoid further escalation.
- One participant added a good advice: "other journalists reported shifting how they cover the news to prevent harassment. For example, an online reporter in Taiwan said she focuses on positive news so she won’t get attacked"
- A Latina newspaper reporter in the U.S. took a different tack. She said she faced extreme harassment online when she started her job five years ago, so now she is extra-vigilant about showing multiple sides of a story to prevent complaints that may escalate into abuse. On the other hand, a TV journalist in the U.S. said she tries to avoid details in her stories that she knows will upset people. “Yes, it affects the way I do my stories,” she said. “I am more careful.”
- It is important to have colleagues to rely on to talk about harassment encountered and to help by, for instance, moderating the comments
- Uses Facebook’s word-blocker function on professional page to prevent words like “sexy,” “hot,” or “boobs” from being posted by users
- IAWRT Manual: https://www.iawrt.org/sites/default/files/field/pdf/2017/11/IAWRT%20Safety%20Manual.Download.10112017.pdf
- CPJ Canada/USA survey: https://cpj.org/blog/2019/09/canada-usa-female-journalist-safety-online-harassment-survey.php
- CPJ manual on how to mitigate sexual violence https://cpj.org/2019/09/physical-safety-mitigating-sexual-violence.php
- IJNET Guide: https://ijnet.org/en/story/how-newsrooms-can-fight-online-harassment-targeting-female-journalists
- OSCE Guide: https://www.osce.org/fom/220411?download=true
- OSCE Manual: https://www.osce.org/representative-on-freedom-of-media/safety-female-journalists-online
Can you talk a bit about the psychological impact this has?
- The psychological impact is huge indeed. From own experience covering mass protests back at home in 2005-2008, as a young female journalist you would get harassed all the time, so you try to wear least revealing clothes, put all of your hair under a hat, always go with a male colleague on reporting assignments, make sure your phone is charged, etc.
- From Tamara's experience working with female journalists in the past five years, the most unfortunate psychological effect is that female journalists start self-censoring or that they cease their journalistic activities.
Community Updates 2019 Part 2
You will find here all the ideas, discussions and topics that the community created from July to December of 2019 on our weekly Glitter Meetups:
Community Updates 2019 Part 1
You will find here all the ideas, discussions and topics that the community created from January to June of 2019 on our weekly Glitter Meetups:
Community Updates 2018
You will find here all the ideas, discussions and topics that the community created during the 2018 on our weekly Glitter Meetups: