Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Arabic Online Academy Boosts Cyber-Security

IWPR trains netizens in Arab world to identify and avoid internet threats.
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A new IWPR online academy is teaching activists in the Middle East and North Africa region how to stay safe in hostile online environments.

The Cyber Arabs Online Academy is an 18-month project designed to deliver up-to-date information on identifying and mitigating the latest digital security threats.

The academy is intended to support the role the internet has played in mobilising citizens to advocate for greater political, social, and economic reform ever since the beginning of the Arab Spring.

Operating under the auspices of IWPR’s CyberArabs programme, the academy website was launched at the end of December.

Although digital technology has enabled citizens to tell their stories to the world, authoritarian states have devised a range of ways to monitor the internet or obstruct access. Activists often face harassment, prosecution and detention for their work online.

“In many parts of the region, authorities are cracking down on activists and netizens for documenting rights violations, calling for greater political rights or posting comments that are deemed insulting to politicians,” said Mariwan Hama, IWPR’s project manager for the Online Academy. “Responding to these challenges, the academy will provide training and online resources on digital security to Arabic-speaking journalists, activists, and netizens.”

The 90-minute sessions are led by veteran digital security experts, and the course covers topics including email and file encryption, secure chat, and permanently deleting or recovering files.

“The academy is a unique portal because it will deliver up-to-date information and tips on digital security to activists and netizens throughout the region in Arabic,” Hama said. “They will have an opportunity to get the tools needed to respond to the digital threats and risks they face – all without leaving their homes.”