Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
Over 5,500 Facebook users, most from Syria, took advantage of Digital Security Awareness Week, a six-day event designed to inform people of the online risks they face and how best to reduce them. More than 9,000 users visited the Cyber Arabs website to access additional n-depth information.
“Since the start of the uprising in 2011, more and more Syrians are using the internet to express themselves and to report the news. This brings new digital security issues that internet users need to be aware of,” said Ahmad Zoughbi, IWPR’s manager for Digital Security Awareness Week. “The campaign was a great initiative to introduce and teach digital security principles to hundreds of users.”
Organisers posted about 80 articles covering a wide range of issues including how to protect accounts and sensitive information, create hack-proof passwords, encrypt emails and chats, and circumvent digital surveillance and mobile security. In response, users posted nearly 500 comments on Facebook..
As part of the week, Radio SouriaLi broadcast daily interviews with digital security experts from Cyber Arabs.
One Facebook user said the campaign was very timely “as the [Syrian] government has been stepping up digital attacks”, and expressed hope that it would be repeated on a regular basis.
Since the Syrian conflict began, pro- and anti-government hackers have targeted numerous websites, including those of news organisations. The government and its proxies are believed to target opposition activists with computer viruses containing malicious software designed to steal data.
In particular, the pro-regime Syrian Electronic Army has claimed responsibility for cyber-attacks on numerous sites.
Cyber Arabs is an IWPR programme that provides journalists and civil society activists across the Arab world with up-to-date information on digital security challenges, and trains them on how to manage risk. More than 100 Syrian activists have been trained in best practices for digital security and in the use of privacy programmes. For more information, please visit cyber-arabs.com
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