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Digital security in layman terms is protecting your technological operations, be it in regards to access to smart devices, data, messages, identity, location and the like. According to Gole Andrew, digital security consultant with Encrypt Uganda and one who has been in the digital security practice for six years, digital security refers to the measures people put in place to protect their online identity, resources and data from different kinds of online and offline threats. Digital security includes practices like authentication where digital service providers require their users to authenticate themselves using components such as passwords, identification by one’s anatomy e.g., a finger print and more. Uganda, as with the rest of the world, is living in the digital age which was made more prominent by the COVID-19 pandemic. But as people integrate the use of technology more and more in their lives, the question at hand is, are you protecting yourself?
Why is it important to protect yourself?
Digital security serves to ensure only those who should have access to certain digital footprints have access to them. Digital security ensures that confidential and sensitive information does not fall in the wrong hands and hence expose those behind the data to attacks. For example, someone may hack into an organization’s database and find out the location of a victim they violated and go on to cause this victim more harm.
Digital security also helps protect you against threats like fraud and impersonation where someone may access your data including name, age, nationality, location and the like and operate fraudulently under your name which can expose you to legal battles.
Challenges in digital security in Uganda
The first challenge to contend with is the understanding of the term digital security. Most of us do not fully comprehend what it is. According to Gole Andrew, there are a few more challenges that can easily be highlighted as follows:
One theme remains incessant in all these challenges; people are not informed and sensitized about the need for digital security. In her opinion, Komuhangi Tumuhairwe, a software engineering finalist at Makerere University relates that “most Ugandans care so little about their digital security even with measures being improved and simplified”
The Wekuume App
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of people have had to adopt digital approaches to work and while that ensured continuity of operations, it also opened up an array of risks in the areas of digital safety and security. The Wekuume App is a digital safety and security tool that was developed in 2017 by a pool of digital security experts in Uganda.
The biggest challenge to the practice of digital security is that most Ugandans still regard it as a reactive measure that is only adopted when an attack or breach has happened. This is where the Wekuume App comes in. This tool works as a proactive measure and approach to digital security.
The app offers an array of easy-to-use lessons starting from explaining digital security to why it is important. This is especially done using examples which paint a picture for the users to see why digital security is important.
In addition, the app also highlights some important tested tools and guides a user through using these tools to ensure their digital operations are secure. Wekuume offers well curated knowledge on digital safety developed by experts which can be used by trainers, mentors and the general public. According to Komuhangi, this knowledge is required if Uganda intends to develop into a technological country.
To integrate digital security as a proactive measure for human rights partitioners, the first step is to actually explain it to them. “The App provides guidelines on how to employ different appropriate digital security skills in almost all digital and online activities” Says Komuhangi. As an individual you will get to learn how to protect yourself and your work. Organizations get to also put their employees through a crash course on digital security using the Wekuume app and hence ensure confidentiality of their work.
Relevance to human rights advocacy
Advocacy for human rights is widespread because it brings together different people and organizations to ensure people’s rights are protected. Doing this work requires a lot of communication channels which are mostly organized around digital means such as emails.
The problem though comes in when in most organizations, people don’t know how to protect their operations and those who know relegate it as work for the IT department and not their concern. This therefore leaves too many points for breach; points such as using a weak password on an email that is used to communicate with victims of a human rights violation.
According to Gole, human rights practitioners are especially in need of digital security because their advocacy essentially means there are violators to these rights. He even goes on to note that due to lack of proper digital security, a lot of practitioners in Uganda have experienced hacks on their devices lately.
Digital security is also a human right because it entails the right to privacy online, access to true information and confidence in online platforms. All these, as Komuhangi explains, are human rights that people will know how to attain through the Wekuume App.
More to be done
The Wekuume App offers a vital starting step to the advance of digital security in Uganda which will essentially make more people willing to invest in the security of their digital operations.
However, there is knowing and there is doing. As the world integrates a new way of operations and organizes itself around digital means, the post COVID-19 pandemic society will need to get proactive with digital security. Consider it this way; people build fences, buy padlocks for their doors and set security alarms. All these physical measures are proactive to ensure security. The same approach and understanding has to be adopted to digital operations.
The Wekuume App then works as an integral player in ensuring this which can be magnified by doing more- “The app will better the practice of digital security in Uganda by making the lessons it already developed more interesting through incorporating video, audio and quizzes” says Gole
The world is now in a digital age and as people living and operating in this age, there are practices we must take on as we move forward. Digital security is a must. Visit https://app.wekuume.org/ or download the Wekuume from Google Play, and start your journey to ensuring you are protected. In case have feedback or suggested improvements to the app, reach out via email to firstname.lastname@example.org