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Human Rights Defenders

Safeguarding Human Rights Defenders during COVID-19

Human Rights Defenders

A Strategic Emergency Response Initiative seeking to establish and coordinate a joint mechanism that offers effective emergency response solutions to the dynamic and complex HRDs security needs associated with the working environment in Uganda, especially during this COVID-19 Pandemic.

Cognizant that Uganda has registered some progress in managing the situation and infection rate, these achievements have not gone without a challenge. The majority of non-governmental organizations have had to adapt to the new normal of working from home according to the respective guidelines. Therefore, our civic effort to push back against human rights violations has been curtailed since all attempts to support affected HRDs, activists, and non-governmental organizations have been stifled by the hostile civic space’s attendant elements.

HRDs and individual activists who speak truth to power during this Pandemic are highly susceptible to physical and digital security attacks. These attacks include but are not limited to intimidation, arrest, torture, killings, withdrawal of operation license, defamation, freezing of bank accounts, office closure, computer and network surveillance, office break-ins, theft and confiscation of digital equipment, loss of information, denial of service attacks and internet censorship.

Despite such hostilities, there is a lack of an inclusive, well-coordinated, sustainable and effective emergency response system geared at security, safety, and protection of the HRDs/groups and the allies during this period. Albeit the availability of the several organizations and entities that support HRDs in such instances, a reasonable number of democracy activists within and out of the capital city have on various forums referred to the available emergence response system as ineffective, unsustainable, inaccessible, individualistic, to mention but a few.

We strongly believe that the current and post-pandemic period will require response through concerted effort. Thus, it is imperative to take stock of partner organizations’ possible roles as strategies for responding to any emerging issues.

End-to-End encryption: What is it, Why you need it, What more you can do

Today all we hear is that end-to-end encryption is the way to go and it is very secure. And That’s all we know, and ever since WhatsApp, Signal among other social communication platforms announced their implementation of end-to-end encryption, everyone has embraced use of these platforms.

We want to tell you more about end-to-end encryption and why you need to have it in your communications. We shall keep this article simple for everyone to understand.

What is encryption? This is a process that encodes a message or file so that it can be only be read by certain people.
This process converts the original representation of the information, known as plaintext, into an alternative form known as ciphertext. Ideally, only authorized parties can decipher a ciphertext back to plaintext and access the original information

What is end-to-end encryption? This is the act of applying encryption to messages on one device such that only the device to which it is sent can decrypt it. The message travels all the way from the sender to the recipient in encrypted form.

Why end-to-end encryption?

  • The biggest reason why we need to communicate via platforms that offer end-to-end encryption is the security of our communication while it is in transit from you the sender to the recipient.
    “It is as if when you mailed a letter you put it in a box that was physically impossible to open — immune to any sledgehammer, saw, lockpick, and so forth — except by the addressee. End-to-end encryption ensures the privacy of your communication.”
  • The second reason could be the fact that since no one is able to intercept your message, therefore no one can make changes to your message until it reaches the recipient of the message. This promotes integrity.

What more can you do? Having all your communication through end-to-end encrypted channels might make you feel secure, although there is much more you can do to further protect your communication.

Make sure to keep your communication device safe because if someone gets hold of your device, they can read all your messages and therefore encryption wont help you.
Keep your device safe by: Using an access lock (password/PIN/pattern) and set your device to automatically lock in a few seconds, Use Genuine software on your devices

Secondly, even if you protect your device – you might not be certain about the device of your recipient, so in this case, spread the word to make sure your devices are all safe

You can also read more on this here https://usa.kaspersky.com/blog/what-is-end-to-end-encryption/23288/

What you need to know about Delayed Phishing/ Post-Delivery Weaponized URL

Truth is, most of us have ever been a victim of phishing before and with the abundant resources online and trainings that we have so far had, we have become sort of immune to phishing.

Click here to as well look at our blog post about phishing and what you need to know

Our immunity against phishing has so far been boosted by e-mail service providers, mail gateways and even browsers that we use which has all embedded in their systems anti-phishing filters and malicious address scanners.

With all these above, cybercriminals are constantly inventing new, and refining old, circumvention methods. One such method is delayed phishing.

Delayed phishing is an attempt to lure a victim to a malicious or fake site using a technique known as Post-Delivery Weaponized URL.

“As the name suggests, the technique essentially replaces online content with a malicious version after the delivery of an e-mail linking to it. In other words, the potential victim receives an e-mail with a link that points either nowhere or to a legitimate resource that may already be compromised but that at that point has no malicious content. As a result, the message sails through any filters. The protection algorithms find the URL in the text, scan the linked site, see nothing dangerous there, and allow the message through.”

Effecting the malicious link

Attackers operate on the assumption that their victim is a normal worker who sleeps at night. Therefore, delayed phishing messages are sent after midnight (in the victim’s time zone), and become malicious a few hours later, closer to dawn.

If cybercriminals find a specific person to attack, they can study their victim’s daily routine and activate the malicious link depending on when that person checks mail.

Technology behind Delayed Phishing

For delayed phishing to be effective, hackers use at least one of these 2 common methods:

  1. Simple link: In this case, the hackers are the ones who are controlling the target site in that at the time of delivery, the site is safe so it can go through the several security levels it is scanned before it is delivered to your mailbox. At the time of delivery, the link leads to either a meaningless stub or (more commonly) a page with an error 404 message and the malicious version of the site is activated after delivery.
  2. Short-link switcheroo: Several sites offer link shortening services to the world, with this you can get alternative links that are easy to remember and short instead of long and boring links. However, some of this services allow you to alternate the link behind these short links. So the cybercriminals take advantage of this in that, by the time they are sending the email, the short link it pointing to a legitimate site and is swapped to the malicious site after delivery.

Although there is a third technology that is not so common which includes a randomized and short link where there is a probabilistic redirection. That is, the link has a 50% chance of leading to google.com and a 50% chance of opening a phishing site. The possibility of landing on a legitimate site apparently can confuse crawlers (programs for automatic information collection).

Spotting & fighting Delayed Phishing

Ideally, there is need to prevent the phishing link from getting to the user, so rescanning the inbox would seem to be the best strategy.

In some cases, that is doable: for example, if your organization uses a Microsoft Exchange mail server. Kaspersky Security for Microsoft Exchange Server is also included in our Kaspersky Security for Mail Servers and Kaspersky Total Security for Business solutions.

HRD Protection Bill 2020 Road Map

The Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill, a journey that begun in 2014, with DPI conducting a study “The Legislative Climate for HRDs in Uganda.” A glance at the legal excesses, which recommended for a specific law that provides for the recognition and protection of HRDs in Uganda.
View this blog to see the progress we have made so far

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