Press freedoms have seen better days though they were never perfect. That’s why journalists and activists have been turning to modern online tools to spread their messages. On the other hand, various government institutions are (unfortunately) getting better with censorship, also relying on novel tools to stifle free speech, while impeding on people’s right to privacy and access to information.
With this article – we want to help journalists, activists and everyone else strengthen their online privacy and security. The piece was inspired by an interview ExpressVPN had with Front Line Defenders’ Mohammed Al-Maskati. Here are his suggestions cause he knows this stuff much better than we do:
1. Rethink what you’re doing online
“The most important thing I’d say is to change your behavior toward technology,” Al-Maskati said. “Technology is not the same as ten years ago, there’s more information out there, and we’re putting it out there. So it’s about putting out less information because we leave our footprints everywhere. We need to reduce that footprint.”
In other words, you should think before sharing anything online as everything you write online could and will be used against you. It’s not just various government agencies that are watching, it’s also the likes of Google and Facebook that want to know every step we make on the Internet.
2. Spread the gospel of security
“Secondly, teach everyone surrounding you. It’s not enough that you’re secure and everyone around you isn’t, because those around you become the leaks. Your family, your colleagues, your partner, everyone. They need to know the basics of digital security, and they need to understand how to apply them.”
Use a VPN, antivirus and other online tools that will enhance your privacy and security on the Internet. There are many cool browser plugins, privacy-focused web browsers, Tor, secure instant messaging apps like Signal and Telegram, and so on. There is a reason why these sorts of tools are getting more users with the day.
3. Keep your device and yourself up to date
“Not just the programming, but also your knowledge. What’s happening in the digital era of technology is happening every day. We need to update ourselves, at least weekly, on these things. Part of what I do at Front Line is collect everything that happens during the week and send it to all the human rights defenders, listing everything they should know in a newsletter. I normally refer to The Hacker News, Motherboard, Security Affairs, and Hack Read.”
Keep reading the latest news on privacy and security so you know when a data breach happens, because every now and then – they do happen. Also, make sure your devices and all apps are always up to date and the same goes for your router — see if there is a new firmware available. It is a good practice to schedule this update “process” once a week. Sure, it requires a bit of time, but it’s well worth the effort. After all, it’s your privacy and security we’re talking about.
And when it comes to selecting the right VPN, since this article was inspired by ExpressVPN – we recommend giving it a try. It is one of the best such services out there, and even if you don’t like it – you can always ask for a refund. Check it out.