From 14th to 15th August 2023, HER Internet hosted 20 women based in Eastern and Western Uganda to a two-day virtual Digital Safety and Security Training in collaboration with Inuka Women’s Foundation (IWF), Twilight Support Initiative Uganda (TSIU) and Eastern Women Voices of Change (EWVC). The aim of this initiative which was supported by Power of Pride (P.O.P) was to equip participants with basic digital safety knowledge and skills to enable them safeguard against cyber-attacks such as phishing scams and social engineering as well as ensure their privacy and anonymity online.

The Executive Director at HER Internet, Sandra Kwikiriza expressed appreciation in her welcome remarks to the attendees for their passion to take safety and security to another level. She also noted that the timely event which specially targeted women living upcountry was beneficial to help them navigate the internet safely and enhance their advocacy work online for themselves, collectives and communities.

In sessions facilitated by the staff at HER Internet, Kettie Kahume, Sanyu Murungi and Diana Karungi, participants plunged into discussions on the most common hacking techniques in Uganda at present specifically the workings of social engineering and phishing which have become widely used to psychologically manipulate individuals to freely share or hand over their confidential information, and hence, accelerated cyber threats and attacks leading to incredible financial losses, data leaks or breaches and identity theft. It was noteworthy that perpetrators of these cyber-attacks use any exciting information and experiences such as attractive offers, freebies, lavish prizes, urgent calls to action, emergencies and fake sensationalized stories to grip attention of the targeted victim(s).

A discussion on Phone and Social Media highlighted the importance and recommendations to secure communication using mobile phones and social media in order to ensure one’s privacy and safety online considering the rapid unanticipated changes within Uganda’s legislation that affect both the human rights and digital rights of communities of structurally silenced women. Attention was directed to the issues that could raise in case  devices and communications are compromised or unsecured. These include; infringement of digital rights and internet freedoms, increased targeted and unwarranted surveillance, interception of standard calls and messages, cyber-crimes and online gender-based violence which widens the digital gender divide.

To ensure that they do not fall victim to social engineering, phishing and other emerging cyber threats, some recommendations and tips were availed to the participants to boost their digital safety. They were encouraged to only click links with “https” at the beginning of the URL which is a secure version of the HTTP protocol, avoid any suspicious links and steer clear of websites whose offers seem “too good to be true”. They were also advised to use secure instant messaging platforms namely Signal and WhatsApp, cautioned to create strong unique passwords, utilize user-friendly password managers, enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), familiarity with available privacy and security options on respective devices and online accounts, regular updates and installations of reliable antivirus software, monitor app permissions and adapt the daily use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) or secure browsers like the Tor Browser.

To learn more, check out our socials or presentations attached in the links below;