Protests and Cybersecurity Risk
Updated: Jan 12
In these times of unrest, it's understandable that many will be participating in demonstrations. During such demonstrations, it's likely that some footage or pictures posted on social media, likely intended to raise awareness, could end up inadvertently creating serious security risks for protesters captured on picture or video.
If you're involved personally, be careful - while your intent may be good and you may be sharing pictures or video of your personal experience to spread awareness of an important social issue, you might actually be unintentionally exposing criminal activity and implicating yourself or others. You may be in danger of being tracked or suffering other negative outcomes if you're not careful with your social media security awareness.
Remember that while your mobile device has many capabilities, it also has technology that continuously provides geolocation data to pinpoint exactly where you were and when you were there. Even if you were peacefully demonstrating with a group, if illegal activity resulted, you could be identified as being in a specific place at a specific time and implicated. This technology is constantly on your person when you carry your mobile device. When you use social media applications, it's almost impossible to contain the data that's shared with third parties, including AI applications that can be used for surveillance. Because of the potential ramifications, any images or video that you post should be carefully considered.
If you plan to attend a protest, there are some ways to protect your data and be more secure:
- Turn off location services on your mobile device
- Do not post images or footage of other people without their consent
- Disable fingerprint or facial recognition unlocking of your mobile device
- Keep your mobile device on 'airplane mode'
- Film with a camera, not your phone
- Wear a mask for both COVID & identity protection
- Delete metadata from any photos taken
All about the data that your phone exposes from Gizmodo (one of our favorite websites):
Some recommendations for apps to make your protesting safer from Lifehacker: