Senate Defence Committee’s Cyber Security manual for journalists is…odd, but cool?

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cyber security

The Senate Defence Committee has been kind enough to release what is, most definitely, a useful cyber security manual for Pakistani journalists. The booklet can be downloaded from here.

I found the manual refreshingly honest and straight forward — to the point where I really have to wonder, did our government folk really read the details before publishing this?

Check out this matter-of-fact discussion of who could harm journalists:

Who could harm you?

As CPJ says Pakistani journalists face a wide array of threats, the risks can come from number of places. Therefore, it is important to be alert to all those, who are likely to be affected by your work.

The government, the military, and their spy agencies are normally at the top of any list of those likely to be snooping. However, now terrorist groups and criminals are increasingly resorting to cyber-surveillance.

Gotcha! Thanks for the heads up!

Next anomaly — In 2011,  the government ordered all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to discontinue all virtual private network (VPN) services in Pakistan to prevent extremists from using the secure networks for communication. It is unclear whether this order was fully implemented, but it also has not been withdrawn. In which case, its a bit odd (though two thumbs up) that the cyber security manual encourages the use of VPNs.

Anonymous browsing is useful for protecting online identity, avoiding surveillance and accessing website that could have been blocked by authorities. It would also conceal your current whereabouts.

Anonymity can be achieved by using various anonymous or proxy webservers that act as a curtain between you and the websites that you are accessing. This can be done either through the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or free anonymizing services like the Tor (The Onion Router).

Aren’t you the same guys who are out blocking proxy sites and banning VPNs? No?

This last one takes the cake though — the manual has this gem for journalists to secure their mobile phones.

Always prefer to use a pre-paid connection that is not directly registered in your name. All such connections should be bought and recharged with cash and not by using credit cards.

Thanks! I’m ditching my post-paid SIM — linked to my name and with a submitted NIC copy — right now!

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