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Security Education Companion
A free resource for digital security educators

Security News

Security News is an archive of curated EFF Deeplinks posts for trainers, technologists, and educators who teach digital security.

Issues that we track here include: country-specific policy updates on security and privacy, updates on malware and vulnerabilities, discussions on encryption and privacy-protecting tools, updates on surveillance (corporate surveillance, street-level surveillance, and mass surveillance), device searches by law and border enforcement, tracking via devices, and general digital security tips.

Decoding California's New Digital Vaccine Records and Potential Dangers

California Privacy

This post was updated on 6/29/21 to more accurately describe how New York is running its voluntary vaccine passport program

The State of California recently released what it calls a “Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record.” It is part of that state’s recent easing of public health rules on masking within businesses. California’s new Record is a QR code that contains the same information as is on our paper vaccine cards, including name and birth date. We all...

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[VISUAL] The Overlapping Infrastructure of Urban Surveillance, and How to Fix It

A cityscape with surveillance

Between the increasing capabilities of local and state police, the creep of federal law enforcement into domestic policing, the use of aerial surveillance such as spy planes and drones, and mounting cooperation between private technology companies and the government, it can be hard to understand and visualize what all this overlapping surveillance can mean for your daily life. We often think of these problems as siloed issues. Local police deploy automated license plate readers or...

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[VISUAL] The Overlapping Infrastructure of Urban Surveillance, and How to Fix It

A cityscape with surveillance

Between the increasing capabilities of local and state police, the creep of federal law enforcement into domestic policing, the use of aerial surveillance such as spy planes and drones, and mounting cooperation between private technology companies and the government, it can be hard to understand and visualize what all this overlapping surveillance can mean for your daily life. We often think of these problems as siloed issues. Local police deploy automated license plate readers or...

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Security Tips for Online LGBTQ+ Dating

Cat Astronaut Soars Through Cyberspace, Leaving a Glowing Rainbow Trail

Dating is risky. Aside from the typical worries of possible rejection or lack of romantic chemistry, LGBTQIA people often have added safety considerations to keep in mind. Sometimes staying in the proverbial closet is a matter of personal security. Even if someone is open with their community about being LGBTQ+, they can be harmed by oppressive governments, bigoted law enforcement, and individuals with hateful beliefs. So here’s some advice for staying safe while online dating as an...

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#ParoNacionalColombia and Digital Security Considerations for Police Brutality Protests

In the wake of Colombia’s tax reform proposal, which came as more Colombians fell into poverty as a result of the pandemic, demonstrations spread over the country in late April, reviving social unrest and socio-economic demands that led people to the streets in 2019.The government's attempts to reduce public outcry by withdrawing the tax proposal to draft a new text did not work. Protests continue online and offline. Violent repression on the ground by police, and the military presence in...

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Surveillance Self-Defense Playlist: Getting to Know Your Phone

We are launching a new Privacy Breakdown of Mobile Phones "playlist" on Surveillance Self-Defense, EFF's online guide to defending yourself and your friends from surveillance by using secure technology and developing careful practices. This guided tour walks through the ways your phone communicates with the world, how your phone is tracked, and how that tracking data can be analyzed. We hope to reach everyone from those who may have a smartphone for the first time, to those who have had...

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Surveillance Self-Defense and Security Education: Year in Review 2020

The number 2020 in a glitchy screen

As the world rapidly changed in 2020, new threats arose to our digital security. The shift to online education and the wave of police brutality protests brought new avenues for surveillance, so EFF created new resources to help people protect themselves.EFF maintains a repository of self-help resources for fighting back against surveillance across a variety of different platforms, devices, and threat models. We call it Surveillance Self-Defense, or SSD for short. 

SSD covers myriad...

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Doxxing: Tips To Protect Yourself Online & How to Minimize Harm

crossed keys security icon banner

“Doxxing” is an eerie, cyber-sounding term that gets thrown around more and more these days, but what exactly does it mean? Simply put, it’s when a person or other entity exposes information about you, publicly available or secret, for the purpose of causing harm. It might be information you intended to keep secret, like your personal address or legal name. Often it is publicly available data that can be readily found online with just a bit of digging, like your phone number or workplace...

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macOS Leaks Application Usage, Forces Apple to Make Hard Decisions

the standard apple logo in silver, with a cartoonish green worm poking through it on each side

Last week, users of macOS noticed that attempting to open non-Apple applications while connected to the Internet resulted in long delays, if the applications opened at all. The interruptions were caused by a macOS security service attempting to reach Apple’s Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP) server, which had become unreachable due to internal errors. When security researchers looked into the contents of the OCSP requests, they found that these requests contained a hash of the...

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How to Identify Visible (and Invisible) Surveillance at Protests

UPDATE Nov. 5, 2020.  Want a crash course in how to identify surveillance technologies at protests? Watch EFF’s new video presentation on How to Observe Police Surveillance at Protests. The 25-minute video, taught by Senior Investigative Researcher Dave Maass, explains how you can identify various police surveillance technologies, like body-worn cameras, drones, and automated license plate readers, which may be used to surveil demonstrations. In the video, you will learn:

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Future Ada: Tech Organizing Through an Intersectional Lens

Artist depiction of Ada Lovelace framed by a circle with the text reading 'futureada.org'.

Ada Lovelace's work on the first analytical engine helped lay the path for our modern world and continues to serve as an inspiration to people worldwide, including Electronic Frontier Alliance member Future Ada.

Based in Spokane, WA, Future Ada was founded in 2017 to advance opportunities and support for underrepresented genders in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. That same year, Forbes noted that closing the gender gap could increase U.S. Gross Domestic...

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Pride Resources for Activism in Digital and Physical Spaces

A flying cat in a space suit with a badge of the trans flag, leaving a rainbow trail.

In June, people honor one of the key events that ushered the era of LGBTQIA+ Pride—Stonewall—during which Black and Brown trans and queer people led a riot in direct response to police brutality. This year, Pride occurs during national and global protests over the continued murder of Black people, and highlights disparities around race, gender, ability and identity, with people at these intersections experiencing particular stress, such as the unprecedented dangers for Black trans women....

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Staying Private While Using Google Docs for Legal & Mutual Aid Work

Google Spying

Regardless of your opinion about Google, their suite of collaborative document editing tools provides a powerful resource in this tumultuous time. Across the country, grassroots groups organizing mutual aid relief work in response to COVID-19 and legal aid as part of the recent wave of protests have relied on Google Docs to coordinate efforts and get help to those that need it. Alternatives to the collaborative tools either do not scale well, are not as usable or intuitive, or just plain...

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VICTORY: Zoom Will Offer End-to-End Encryption to All Its Users

Crossed keys icon with pink & grey starburst pattern in background

We are glad to see Zoom’s announcement today that it plans to offer end-to-end encryption to all its users, not just those with paid subscriptions. Zoom initially stated it would develop end-to-end encryption as a premium feature. Now, after 20,000 people signed on to EFF and Mozilla’s open letter to Zoom, Zoom has done the right thing, changed course, and taken a big step forward for privacy and security.

Other enterprise companies like Slack, Microsoft, and Zoom’s direct...

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A Quick and Dirty Guide to Cell Phone Surveillance at Protests

IMSI-Catchers Exploit Cell Networks

As uprisings over police brutality and institutionalized racism have swept over the country, many people are facing the full might of law enforcement weaponry and surveillance for the first time. Whenever protesters, cell phones, and police are in the same place, protesters should worry about cell phone surveillance. Often, security practitioners or other protesters respond to that worry with advice about the use of cell-site simulators (also known as a CSS, IMSI catcher, Stingray,...

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Will Zoom Bring Encryption to the People Who Need It Most?

encrypted laptop

This morning, EFF and Mozilla called on Zoom to make their upcoming end-to-end encryption feature available to all 300 million of its users. We published an open letter urging Zoom’s CEO Eric Yuan not to exclude Zoom’s free customers from using their upcoming end-to-end encryption feature. 

We applaud Zoom for building strong end-to-end encryption into their service. But by limiting this security enhancement to paid accounts, Zoom is denying privacy protections to the participants...

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Amazon Ring Must End Its Dangerous Partnerships With Police

The shadow of a police officer looms in front of a Ring device on a closed door.

Across the United States, people are taking to the street to protest racist police violence, including the tragic police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. This is a historic moment of reckoning for law enforcement. Technology companies, too, must rethink how the tools they design and sell to police departments minimize accountability and exacerbate injustice. Even worse, some companies profit directly from exploiting irrational fears of crime that all too often feed the flames...

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Digital Security Advice for Journalists Covering the Protests Against Police Violence

This guide is an overview of digital security considerations specific to journalists covering protests. For EFF’s comprehensive guide to digital security, including advice for activists and protesters, visit ssd.eff.org. Legal advice in this post is specific to the United States.

As the international protests against police killings enter their third week, the public has been exposed to shocking videos of law enforcement wielding violence against not only demonstrators,...

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You Have a First Amendment Right to Record the Police

Police car being recorded by phone video

Like the rest of the world, we are horrified by the videos of George Floyd’s murder. Once again, police brutality was documented by brave bystanders exercising their First Amendment rights. Their videos forcefully tell a painful truth that has further fueled a movement to demand an end to racism and abuse of power by police officers.

Recordings of police officers, whether by witnesses to an incident with officers, individuals who are themselves interacting with officers, or by...

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Protecting Your Privacy if Your Phone is Taken Away

Your phone is your life. It’s where you communicate, get your news, take pictures and videos of your loved ones, relax and play games, and find a significant other. It can track your health, give you directions, remind you of events, and much more. It’s an incredibly helpful tool, but it can also be used against you by malicious actors. It’s important to know what your phone contains and how it can also make you vulnerable to attacks.

Your threat model is unique and personal. And...

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EFF Offering Assistance with Attorney Referrals for Protesters

scales of justice icon + starburst

In light of the current protests across the country against racism and police brutality, we want to call attention to EFF’s attorney referral services. We are opening up our Cooperating Attorneys list to people facing legal troubles as a result of their participation in the ongoing demonstrations, especially those involving surveillance or devices such as phones. We urge anyone in such a position to contact us for help in finding representation.

Our referral list is comprised of...

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Surveillance Self-Defense: Attending Protests in the Age of COVID-19

In the wake of nationwide protests against the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, we urge protestors to stay safe, both physically and digitally. Our Surveillance Self Defense (SSD) Guide on attending a protest offers practical tips on how to maintain your privacy and minimize your digital footprint while taking to the streets.

These demonstrations have taken place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, so for many, public health concerns have added an...

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Sex Worker Rights Advocates Raise the Alarms about EARN IT

Cat Astronaut Soars Through Cyberspace, Leaving a Glowing Rainbow Trail

June 2nd is recognized around the world as the chosen date of countless direct actions and protests in support of the sex workers' rights movement. Since its inception nearly 45 years ago, International Whores Day reclaims a sometimes derogatory word to set the tone for a day of unrest and political action. June also marks International LGBTQ+ Pride month, and this is the first in a series of blog posts that aims to highlight different facets within the broader LGBTQ+ community.

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Tech Learning Collective: A Grassroots Technology School Case Study

Crossed keys icon with pink & grey starburst pattern in background

Grassroots education is important for making sure advanced technical knowledge is accessible to communities who may otherwise be blocked or pushed out of the field. By sharing this invaluable knowledge and skills, local groups can address and dissolve these barriers to organizers hoping to step up their cybersecurity.

The Electronic Frontier Alliance (EFA) is a network of community-based groups across the U.S.  dedicated to advocacy and community education...

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Don’t Mix Policing with COVID-19 Contact Tracing

Over the weekend, Minnesota’s Public Safety Commissioner analogized COVID-19 contact tracing with police investigation of arrested protesters. This analogy is misleading and dangerous. It also underlines the need for public health officials to practice strict data minimization—including a ban on sharing with police any personal information collected through contact tracing.

On May 30, at a press conference about the ongoing protests in Minneapolis against racism and police...

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