After Adam Hash’s talk on Tuesday, it seems that the only way to protect our personal information is to be, well, some hay in the haystack. In class we’ve been introduced to countless organizations that have conducted hundreds of studies. The plethora of information collected is incalculable. But where is all this information stored and how is it protected? NGO’s, socially-conscious organizations, and governments have collected sensitive data such as HIV status, sexual orientation, political preference, etc. that could compromise the privacy and safety of the individual if accessed by malicious users. However, cyber security is generally not a budgetary priority of NGOs. Unless there is a direct and easily identifiable adversary (such as Greenpeace and Japanese whalers), security measures are often seen as unnecessary overhead costs. Much such organizations are already structured to minimize overhead and administrative costs as much as possible. Yet, a security breach could seriously harm the beneficiaries of the organization/initiative, as well as the reputation and work of the organization itself
Fortunately, there are solutions out there. The Tactical Technology Cooperative, an international non-profit whose mission is to “advance the skills, tools, and techniques of rights advocates, empowering them to use information and communications to help marginalized communities understand and effect progressive social, environmental and political change”, has launched a project that directly addresses cyber security of human rights advocates and organizations. Security in a Box offers informative how-to booklets and guides which allow an organization to up their security measures, free of charge. Each of the guides includes free, open-source software as well as instructions on how to use it. Topics include “How to remain anonymous and bypass censorship on the internet” or “CCleaner – Secure File Deletion and Work Session Wiping”. They even offer special guides for mobile security. Perhaps most impressively, the information is available in 11 languages, including Russian, Turkish, Arabic, and Indonesian.