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

Azeri Journalists Learn Cyber-Security Tips

IWPR shares Middle Eastern best practice in digital security with Azerbaijani colleagues.
By IWPR Georgia
  • (Photo: Dina Tokbaeva)
    (Photo: Dina Tokbaeva)

Journalists and bloggers from Azerbaijan say they picked up valuable digital security skills at an IWPR training workshop held in the Georgian capital Tbilisi.

The nine participants in the April 17-19 course came from all over Azerbaijan as well as the capital Baku.

One newspaper reporter from the eastern coast described the risks facing journalists in a state that kept close tabs on their online activity.

“There are many cases of the government running surveillance on private accounts and emails. Everything we’ve learned on this training course is going to come in very useful for avoiding such problems,” she said.

The trainer was Bahaa Nasr, an expert on digital security working for IWPR in the Middle East and North Africa. Over several years, our programmes in that region have helped journalists and citizen activists in the Arab world to protect their online identities and communications in the face of intrusive government surveillance.

For a journalist in this kind of environment, sensible security precautions run from basic housekeeping – passwording access and running the latest updates of antivirus software – to more complex programmes that encrypt emails or keep private data safely locked away.

“I’ve attended several courses in digital security, but I’d never heard of the programmes I was introduced to at this one,” a radio journalist from the west of Azerbaijan said afterwards. “Bahaa provided programmes to help us secure our emails and other accounts, as well as to encrypt chats and emails, to hide important files on our computers, and even to encrypt the whole operating system. I believe this will help me in my career.”

A colleague from southern Azerbaijan said many more journalists needed to learn these skills.

“This subject-matter is of particular importance to investigative reporters. Journalists who write about corruption among officials will be able to secure the data on their computers,” he said. “As many journalists as possible need to be taught the digital security programmes that we’ve learned.”