Our target audience is not only lacking basic ICT (Information Communication Technology) knowledge to cope with everyday digital demands but more importantly, they are lacking the skills, knowledge and digital resources to properly cope with the digital restrictions and threats to their personal and digital security.
An onsite study we conducted shockingly states that an overwhelming majority of 85% of the research participants, currently living in Iran, rated the likelihood that they have been hacked or subjected to a cyber-attack as “strong” or “good”.
Additionally, our research and work with civil society actors and organizations in the MENA region over the past decade, has demonstrated a clear need for easy to use formats if one wishes to encourage and support users to engage in safer digital practices. Our experience has shown again and again that when recommended or provided digital tools are too complex for users, they either are unable to properly use the recommended setup or quickly return to their previous setup due to frustrations with the new system.
Our report findings are also in line with other reports that have assessed the current situation of civic society actors in the MENA region. All highlight the need to supply civil society actors with more support, education and resources in order for CSOs and civil actors to work more effectively and, most importantly, operate more safely.
With this in mind, we have developed a digital toolkit. It’s one of our approaches to be impactful in terms of effectively addressing the needs CSOs and actors have.
Rapid Response Unit:
VA wants to establish and manage a team of qualified IT specialists that will function as a Digital Rapid Response Unit during ongoing events such as elections. The team would be online and available 12 hours a day covering the most critical time periods in an effort to offer live assistance to the organizations and individuals that seek their help.
Additional to online support, the team will provide access to 1000 VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) to an increasing number of important members of Iranian civil society, in particular activists, students, women’s rights activists, journalists, filmmakers, ICT professionals, labor leaders, religious and ethnic minority activists, human rights defenders, academics, and other leading societal figures inside the country. This provision of access also comes with Persian-language support during day-time hours to assist and support the usage of these VPNs.
Email and Basic Computer Security:
Support in increasing the email account of activists and computer security to minimize the threat of being hacked.
Server and Website Security:
Increasing server and website security to minimize being hacked or shut down.
Post Hacking Support:
If a user has been hacked the team would explore options of how he/she can regain control over his/her accounts.
General Online Communication Support:
Offering support and response to general queries regarding online communication. For example, “How can I increase the privacy settings of my Facebook account?” or “Is telegram group chat secure?”
Ongoing Feedback Loops:
Carrying out continuous feedback loops with participants to ensure that we continually respond appropriately to their challenges and needs.