Digital Security workshop in collaboration with P@SHA and Google at The Second Floor, Karachi 

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Digital Security workshop in collaboration with P@SHA, Google and Government of Punjab at Arfa Technology Park, Lahore 

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Digital Security workshop in collaboration with P@SHA at SEECS – NUST

February 8, 2012 dawned as the day when Bolo-Bhi, a newly founded initiative for research, advocacy and policy-making, was unveiled before the students of SEECS at the National University of Science and Technology.

The Bolo-Bhi team, in collaboration with P@SHA, Pakistan Software Houses  Association, conducted a workshop for the students of School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science on:

“How to stay safe online”

 Dr. Arshad Ali, DG of SEECS, Fatima Tauqir and Shafaq Soomro welcomed the members of Bolo-Bhi and P@SHA to SEECS and explained the importance of the topic to the students.

President of P@SHA Jehan Ara, introduced the Association to the assembled students, and urged them to interact with the industry association to benefit from its programmes assisting entrepreneurs and those wishing to find internship opportunities.

Sana Saleem introduced the newly formed initiative of Bolo Bhi, and explained that it planned to be involved in policy making, research and advocacy in the fields of internet freedom, privacy rights, gender and human rights.

Another team member of Bolo-Bhi, Farieha Aziz explained why it was important to be a part of initiatives like this as it enabled everyone to play their role as a stakeholder and influence policy making that was broad based and people friendly. She emphasized that it was imperative for the educated youth, like the students of SEECS to come forward and be a part of such initiatives.

Starting the workshop, Fariha Akhtar, a senior software engineer and a Bolo-Bhi member, explained to the students the importance of online safety, and spoke about digital identity and the risks present online.

Through an interactive presentation, she explained the perils of keeping the same password for all email accounts, and not making frequent, almost weekly, changes to the password. She advised the use of alphanumeric characters to ensure password strength, and told them about Keypass to store all passwords.

The students were explained the 2 step verification process for the gmail account, and cautioned about saving passwords and staying signed in, especially on public computers. On screen keyboard was cited as a good alternative.

They were also informed about device security, and how to secure and securely remove documents from devices through tips available on sites like Truekrypt.. keypass and Filehippo.com.

Fariha advised the students not to keep important documents on the desktop, and always use passwords to protect their machines and phones. For additional security, she advised them not to type the password sequentially, but to type half of it, backspace, and then type the other letters.

She explained the benefits of Firefox, which allowed plugins ensuring security. Advice was given n clearing browser history, and for deleting files, Shredder, Recouver, Eraser were  recommended. She warned that anything deleted was retrievable so they should not save pictures or data on hardware of devices, be they smart phones or computers, as the phones can be connected to Macs and PCs.

It was also advised that the browser settings should be changed to clear browser history, and for secure browsing, https must be typed in the URL. They were also asked to use the Incognito mode in Google Chrome or private browsing on Firefox and TOR be used for location anonymity.

For connection security, there should be password protected wifi at home, and they were also cautioned that Adobe Flash Player and Photoshop could turn on the webcams. Recommendation was given to back up the emails on a USB, while Gmails could be sent to a back up account

Farieha Aziz spoke to the students about Social media security, through measures like Limited settings, and lists on facebook, fake account for facebook if privacy was more important than networking. She explained to the students about the many guidelines developed by the Takebackthetech campaign to tackle cyber harassment

Ahsan Mukhtar, a telecom engineer and blogger, explained to the students how their security and privacy could be compromised through their cell phones through back end data collection. He gave the students tips about cell phone security, especially when selling their old phones, and how to clear the data from their memory.

Afia Salam, a journalist, explained to the audience how there were creative and non-invasive methods of identity verifications. She urged the students not to give into demands of revealing identity without first verifying the credentials of who was asking for it. Also, if they felt uneasy about the privacy policy of any institution, they had the right to ask who had access to their data or footage captured on CCTV cameras to ensure it is not misused.

Sana Saleem and Jehan Ara also explained at length the lacunas in the country’s legislation in the absence of a cybercrime.

The workshop ended with an invitation by the Bolo-Bhi team to the students to become part of the initiative and spread the word by forming independent clusters  that can feed into the core committee for guidance and information.

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