Tactical Tech is an international NGO helping human rights advocates use information, communications and digital technologies to maximise the impact of their advocacy work. We provide advocates with guides, tools, training and consultancy to help them develop the skills and tactics they need to increase the impact of their campaigning.
Front Line Defenders was founded with the specific aim of protecting human rights defenders at risk, people who work, non-violently, for any or all of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Front Line Defenders aims to address some of the needs identified by defenders themselves, including protection, networking, training and access to international bodies that can take action on their behalf.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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Evaluation parameters and Selection Criteria for Security-in-a-Box
The process of the selection of the tools for the Security in a Box toolkit takes into account many criteria. All of them have their own significance and it is not easy to line them up according to importance. Below, we list what we consider the most important points of view we take into account for the tools and services we recommend:
Security in a Box Selection Criteria
- Trusted (audited independently or anecdotal);
- Matured (stable, active user-base community, responsive developer community);
- Open Source v. Freesoftware v. robustness calculus;
- User friendly;
- Multi-Language and localization support;
- Available documentation (source, installation, usage, update);
Trust, maturity, open source
With regard to security/privacy tools and technologies, trust is a fundamental issue to address. This toolkit has a strong commitment to fostering and recommending tools and software whose trustworthiness is verifiable. To ensure that tools we recommend can be trusted, we monitor the development and maintenance of the tools, often in direct contact with the developers community. We observe users and other developers' concerns, discovered bugs and ways developers react and deal with them. We take into account how often tools are updated, and choose tools that have many installations and are popular. We are more inclined towards tools that had been in use for years and can withstand the 'test of time' in diverse environment and under changing conditions of different operating system versions.
We consider as an element of trust the design model of the software or service, e.g. is privacy built into the design model? what additional information is collected about the user?, etc.
Open Source v. Freesoftware v. robustness calculus
The open-source philosophy additionally allows the possibility to establish independent trust in the software, by making the source-code of a given tool available to public. This will allow for an independent (at times volunteer) community-based audit and development.
- To generate the software;
- To ensure the software appropriately comports to its touted functionality;
- To independently verify its strengths and vulnerabilities;
- To enable remixing and tailoring resources to meet specific needs and contexts;
It is also difficult to forego the fact that many non-open-source tools are readily available and/or are in wide use, or that some functionalities are not readily found in usable forms among open-source candidates. In such cases, the toolkit seeks to explicitly highlight the inherent insecurities of tools with non-open-source legacies.
It is important also to mention that Security in a Box's primary intended target audience benefit from freedom to use the software in at least two ways: it is legal for them to use the tools and they do not have to pay for them, which at times is impossible.
User friendliness is a subjective and situation dependent criterion. Therefore, we rely on the opinions of our target audience: human rights defenders and activists in the field. In this project, since 2004, we had the privilege of interacting with thousands of activists in different types of sessions and trainings, which has provided us with a unique way of understanding how the tools we are recommending are perceived by first time users with varying computer skills and experience. We are constantly looking at the benefits of recommending tools other than those that we feature in our toolkit at the moment.
Multi-Language and localization support
This project is aimed predominantly at non-anglophone audiences in the so called "global south". Therefore, this criteria is very important.
- Source code availability (where on open-source spectrum)
- User manual
- Troubleshooting guide
- Installation Training
- Compatibility (OS)
- Internal memory
- External storage
- software purchase
Security in-a-box was developed by the Tactical Technology Collective and Front Line Defenders in collaboration with:
- Coordination, writing & editing
- Wojtek Bogusz, Dmitri Vitaliev, Chris Walker, Ali Ravi
- Additional writing
- Carol Ann McGough, Benji Pereira, Dirk Slater, Oliver Leistert, Cormac McGuire, Becky Faith, Daniel Ó Clunaigh, and others
- English proofreading & copy editing
- Caroline Kraabel, Benji Pereira
- Lead tester
- Rosemary Warner
- Lynne Stuart
- Coordination of software localisation
- Hadi Habbal, Louise Berthilson, Alberto Escudero Pascual
- Spanish team
- Phol Edward Paucar Aguirre, Pablo Zavala, Tanya Lockwood Fallas, Katitza Rodriguez Pereda, Angelin Venegas Ramirez, Diego Escalante Urrelo, Carlos Wertheman
- French team
- Patrick Cadorette, Alexandre Guidon, Miriam Heap-Lalonde, Fabian Rodriguez, Elise Graton
- Russian team
- Sergei Smirnov, Emin Akhundov, Alexei Bebinov, Alexander Lapidus, Ksenia Shiryaeva
- Arabic Team
- Hadi Habbal, Ahmad Gharbeia, Manal Hassan, Khaled Hosny, Mahammad F Kalfat
- Special Thanks to
- The Citizen Lab, the Guardian Project, Riseup, the Tor Project & EFF