Next June and July will be the 21st FIFA World Cup. On this occasion, journalists from all over the world will visit Russia, the host country for the event. Ranked 148th out of 180 in RWB’s global press freedom index, Russia has one of the world’s most effective digital surveillance arsenals. A few precautions are necessary.
Before you leave
- Back up and clean your data before you go, both on your phone and on your computer. Better still, leave with a computer that is completely empty of all personal information.
- Install all updates. Do not make any updates once there, whether for your computer or your smartphone.
- Encrypt the contents of your computer and your smartphone (internal memory and SD card). In case of theft, your data will be unusable. Encryption is enabled by default on iPhones since iOS 8, and on Android phones since Android 6 “Marshmallow”.
- Secure your social networking accounts with strong passwords at least 20 characters long. Think “passphrase”. Example: “I read a very good book tonight.”
- Use two-step verification, which consists of receiving a code on your phone before you can access a service.
- Make sure that your firewall is enabled on your computer.
- Install an antivirus program.
- Always lock your session on your computer and on your smartphone.
- Beware of prying eyes; use a privacy filter.
- Do not leave your devices in your room. Always bring them with you. Once in the hands of an expert, no protection will guarantee that you have not been infected by a virus.
- Never connect to public wifi without protection. Use a VPN. This tool routes your internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel and protects it from any prying eyes. (Nothing2hide provides VPNs.)
- Use secure communication applications to encrypt your messages and phone calls—e.g., Signal, WhatsApp, Wire.
- Ask your IT manager or an expert you know to examine your computer and smartphone.
- If you experience abnormal behavior on any of your devices, including unintentional rebooting, abnormal battery usage, etc., reset them.
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