9.12 – Digital Security Tactics (PART II of III)

This is Ethiopian Review Policy Research Center’s series on From Dictatorship to Democracy extracted/quoted from books and articles published by Albert Einstein Institution and similar sources.

Digital Cameras

  • Keep the number of sensitive pictures on your camera to a minimum.
  • Add plenty of random non-threatening pictures (not of individuals) and have these safe pictures locked so when you do a “delete all” these pictures stay on the card.
  • Keep the battery out of the camera when not in use so it can’t be turned on by others.
  • Practice taking pictures without having to look at the view screen.


  • Use passphrases for all your sensitive data.
  • Keep your most sensitive files on flash disks and find safe places to hide them.
  • Have a contingency plan to physically destroy or get rid of your computer at short notice.

Flash disks

  • Purchase flash disks that don’t look like flash disks.
  • Keep flash disks hidden.

Email communication

  • Use code.
  • Use passphrases instead of passwords and change them regularly.
  • Use letters, numbers and other characters to make them “c0mpLeX!”.
  • Do not use personal information and changer your passphrases each month. Do not use the same password for multiple sites.
  • Never use real names for email addresses and use multiple addresses.
  • Discard older email accounts on a regular basis and create new ones.
  • Know the security, safety and privacy policies of providers and monitor any chances (see terms of service tracker).

Browsers and websites

  • Turn off java and other potentially malicious add-ons.
  • Learn IP addresses of visited websites so that history shows only numbers and not names.
  • When browsing on a public computer, delete your private data (search history, passwords, etc.) before you leave.
  • When signing up for an account where you will be publishing sensitive media, do not use your personal email address and don’t give personal information.
  • Don’t download any software from pop-ups, they may be malicious and attack your computer or record your actions online.
  • Do not be logged in to any sensitive site while having another site open.


  • Just because your talking online doesn’t mean you are not under surveillance.
  • As with a cell or landline, use code do not give salient details about your activities, and do not make incriminating statements.
  • Remember that your online activities can be surveilled using offline techniques. It doesn’t matter if you are using encrypted VOIP at a cyber cafe if the person next to you is an under-cover police officer.
  • When possible, do not make sensitive VOIP calls in a cyber cafe. It is simply too easy for someone to overhear you. If you must, use code that doesn’t stand out.

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