Activists Are in Danger Without Leading Encryption

Activists Are in Danger

Credit: Life Matters via Pexels

Activists know an uncomfortable fact: if you publicly denounce powerful institutions and work to curb their influence, you’re liable to make a powerful enemy with resources at their disposal. Around the world, governments track dissidents, corporates target anti-globalization activists, and others who use their voice for good get their privacy routinely breached.

It’s not an exaggeration to say it could be a matter of life and death: an environmentalist named Joannah Stutchbury was murdered in mysterious circumstances after protesting against developing wetlands in Kenya. Unfortunately, she’s far from the only one who shares this gruesome fate.

Military-Grade Encryption Is a Basic Requirement

It’s a mistake to trust the “end-to-end encryption” associated with free apps for different reasons. First, sometimes these companies quietly sell user data to third parties without informing the user, so there’s no way to know how it’s being used or who can access it.

Secondly, just because encryption is “end-to-end” does not mean it uses the strongest algorithms available. An encrypted cell phone communication platform built entirely with privacy in mind features military-grade encryption. Activists can’t afford to trust platforms that tout “end-to-end encryption” while selling user data.

Cell phones don’t only contain communications but people’s location, contacts, pictures, and more. Activists need to keep these things secret for their sake and that of their peers.

Security for the Device Itself

A remote hack is not the only way that an activist’s phone security can be compromised. If their phone gets misplaced or stolen, it can be every bit as damaging. That’s why they need a suite of secondary security features to protect the physical phone itself.

The first layer of security is a notebook lock screen with a custom PIN for two-factor authentication; this prevents anyone from accessing the phone, even if they’re holding it in their hands.

The industry’s most secure phones go further. A tamper proof feature lets users create a duress password, so the phone instantly deletes all its sensitive information if someone enters the wrong password too many times.

If an activist wants to send a confidential message, note, or picture, they can set it to self-destruct, allowing the intended recipient to see it while greatly reducing the chances that anyone else can. Any content set to self-destruct can’t be forwarded, favorited, or saved on either device, and it’ll be eliminated on both phones at the set time even if there’s no data connection.

Easy to Use

Rapid communication is a part of everyday life now, and nobody wants a phone you need to jump through hoops to use, even if it’s secure. Thankfully, the most secure phones on the market are also straightforward for non-technical users to operate.

With the swipe of a finger, you can access all your messages, contacts, notes, voice, and groups. Activists make powerful enemies. One report by The Guardian claims that 331 human rights defenders worldwide were murdered in 2020, including environmentalists and even people providing COVID-19 relief. Activists need phones built primarily for privacy with all the above features, rather than free apps touting security as a marketing slogan while containing significant vulnerabilities.