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NGO in-a-box: Security Edition

The Security edition of NGO-in-a-box is designed to meet the digital security and privacy needs of Human Rights Defenders and Independent Media. It is a part of Tactical Tech's larger project on digital security and is carried out in collaboration with Front Line Human Rights Defenders .

The second version of the Security in-a-box toolkit is due to be released at the end of 2008. Click here for further details.

The first edition of the toolkit is a peer-reviewed selection of free and open-source software, materials and guides for digital security and privacy. It's aim is to simplify this complicated area and reduce the overwhelming choices often faced by people when trying to find solutions to their problems.

Recommended software is reviewed and explained, collected on to a CD (and available online) and accompanied by installation and user guides in multiple languages. Each tool is accompanied with clear explanations and tips written for the non-technical user.

The toolkit covers a wide range of topics from how to secure email to how to protect yourself against viruses, from remote back-up to setting up passwords – skills that are essential to the modern human rights defender and independent journalist.

The toolkit is currently available in French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and English. A second version is now under development that will also provide localised tools and a more extensive guide.

How has the security edition been used so far?

The first edition of the NGO-in-a-box Security edition has been in great demand. During this first phase of the Security project, we have:

  • Distributed 2,500 hard copies of the toolkit on request in over 45 countries.
  • Trained over 800 NGO members in Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
  • Received a steady average of 10,000 visits a month to the security.ngoinabox.org website.

More importantly, time and time again, we've seen the Security NGO-in-a-box, together with the relevant training, have a significant impact of human rights defenders and independent journalists all over the globe.

“After receiving a copy of the Box, an activist was able to re-program Tor (a software tool that enables you to get to blocked websites) so that it could not be blocked by the local authorities. He quickly passed this knowledge onto his friends and colleagues to allow them to update their blogs and read international news sites.”

“A day before a scheduled training on the security box for activists, there was some intervention from the national security bureau. They tried to spook the participants from attending the lessons. However, no one refused and the two day session was full. Participants were particularly interested in how to encrypt their hard drives and permanently destroy information off their computer. Many are now using these methods in everyday practice.”

"One of the trainings was blocked by the local authorities. The participants were willing to go ahead and risk meeting. They decided to meet in an informal place to receive the materials from the security edition of NGO-in-a-Box and a shorter version of the training on how to overcome filtering allowing them to get information and use encrypted email to send unfiltered information."

What will the next version involve?

Following on from these successes, - and with more requests coming in from organisations and individuals every month - Tactical Tech, in partnership with Front Line, is now launching the second phase of the Security Project.

Central to this new phase is the second edition of the Security NGO-in-a-box. The new, improved edition will include:

  • Redesigned, better targeted format and contents, offering a more accessible, intuitive and comprehensive experience to the non-technical user.
  • A fine-tuning of the existing tools, resources and training materials included in the toolkit.
  • A complementary guide to help users make judgements themselves on which tools to use.
  • Guides and training materials in English, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic.

On top of this, we will also further integrate the toolkit with the larger security project. Through this we will:

  • Initiate a world-wide network of digital security trainers to lead workshops in activists' regions and languages – helping them implement the toolkit more effectively and stimulate its integration into local NGO circles even further.
  • Write and publish a training curriculum to be used by anyone wishing to do their own toolkit training – released in all five languages and accompanying each NGO-in-a-box.
  • Expand the outreach of the toolkit through collaborating with major international NGOs and foundations working in the sector, seeking partnerships with publishers and experimenting with print-on-demand services.