The International Girls in ICT Day is an annual global event that was initiated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). It is commemorated every fourth Thursday of the month of April to create awareness and call for more participation of womxn and girls within the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector.

Under this year’s theme “Digital skills for all”, HER Internet convened 20 womxn for a virtual Digital Safety Training on Circumvention Techniques on Wednesday 19th April 2023 ahead of the International Girls in ICT Day with support from the Tor Project team. The workshop was facilitated by our Detailer at HER Internet, Kettie Kahume, with the objective to check in on the digital safety of the participants, share a recap on the circumvention tools and introduction to the Snowflake proxy.

Simply defined, Tor browser (otherwise known as The Onion Router) is a web browser that enables internet users browse privately and explore freely away from “prying eyes” that track or surveil their online activities as well as circumvent censorship. Hence, the Tor browser counters non-consensual tracking or data mining, prevent some VPNs from getting and sharing the users’ free information, helps bypass censorship on the internet and evades surveillance.

The Snowflake proxy is an extension that allows people from around the world a double layer of protection via Tor network through further disguising one’s own online activities. Kettie explained in her presentation that the Snowflake feature is embedded in the existing apps and devices that have access to the Tor networks both on mobile phones and desktops. She further suggested that both Tor browser and snowflake should be downloaded or accessed via the official Tor website directly for authenticity reasons. It was also noted that digital security can’t be discussed or practiced without digital literacy which should also be prioritized especially for structurally silenced groups in remote and rural areas who mostly lack this knowledge.

To wrap it all up, HER Internet was appreciated for the informative responses in the sessions and attendees called for more deep dive digital safety trainings to popularize Tor services for online privacy and anonymity. Other mitigation measures were also suggested to upgrade digital security amidst the evolving and emerging trends of online attacks especially through social media apps. These included; the adaptation of safe VPNs, cautiousness while sharing information and content online, sharing hints and tips on online safety through awareness campaigns and individual responsibility for safety through scrutiny and vigilance.