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Digital security threat model for Syrian journalists

Digital security threat model for Syrian journalists

Understanding what digital threats you might face when undertaking a specific task will help you choose the right precautions.

You should always keep your risk assessment and communication plan updated, and this can help that in areas of digital security as a situation develops or changes. 


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  1. Creating a threat model
  2. Dealing with the threats
  3. Resources to help

A threat model

When you think there’s a potential threat of doing something, run through these questions before clicking.

What is it that you’re trying to keep confidential?
This could be your research files, communications, a location where you’re working, identities of your contacts (or yourself), your networks, etc.

Who is the adversary and what makes them an adversary?
Who is it that would want this information? What would they want to know: your sources are, your research findings, or more about you? What is their interest in the data you’re protecting? How would they use it?

What can your adversary do to find out?
There are official methods: You could be arrested or detained physically. The military or government could go to your internet service provider or mobile network and get access to your data or order that it monitor your communications. In Syria, all telecommunications companies are accessible to the government. There are other methods as well:  eavesdropping, hacking, or social engineering tactics. And don’t forget real world methods, such as theft, violence, or intimidation.

What would happen if they succeed?
Could it put you, your contacts, colleagues or others in danger? Could it ruin your story or affect your career?


Dealing with the threats

After you’ve answered these four questions, you can update your communications plan or risk assessment documents:
  • This detailed guidebook also has good advice on tackling the threats facing journalists during their field work. Below you'll find a link to the Cyber Arabs Guide along with Security in-a-Box downloaes jointly developed by Front Line Defenders and Tactical Technology Collective, along with a global network of thousands of activists, trainers and digital security experts.
Image: ©Marjan Krebelj, used here with a Creative Commons licence.

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