The Umbrella App Aims To Teach Security and Anonymity to Activists and Journalists

A mobile phone app called Umbrella developed by London-based organisation, Security First was launched on Monday. This app provides humanitarians, human rights activists and journalists all the latest tools and advice on how to work safely.

All kinds of practical advices right from how to protect files or make a secure call, to This new app provides practical advice for everything from how to make a secure phone call or protect files, to noticing surveillance or what to do if you’re arrested are provided by the new app. Simple step-by-step actions of what to do in any given security situation and show the best tools to do it with are provided in the lessons. You can keep yourself updated with the current risks in your area using the dashboard, while an easy-to-use checklists can help you mark your progress.

Rory Byrne, CEO of Security First, said “We wanted to build a simple, easily-accessible tool that brought together digital and physical security, and helped human rights activists implement it in a really user-friendly way. We’re basically building the tool we wish we had ourselves.”

For security reasons, one Iranian journalist and trainer who chose to remain anonymous said, ”Umbrella is very useful for my work. It really helps me as an individual and a trainer. It keeps me to up to date on the go. It also keeps me updated with the newest tools, which is hard to do with my busy job. Based on my own experience it can help my students effectively learn how to protect themselves – from whatever may threaten them.”

The last few years have been some of the worst in recorded history for the human rights activists for their harassment putting them into danger more than ever. Human rights groups are now facing a global crackdown not seen in a generation. If journalists need to continue exposing political violence in Zimbabwe, or humanitarians need to continue offering assistance in Sudan, then for that they must first be able to work safely.

In spite of that security is difficult. During the Bahraini Uprising, Mohamed al-Tajer, Bahraini human rights lawyer was put in jail and beaten by the security forces, said, ”It’s hard to know what tools to use, it’s hard to use a lot of those tools, and it’s hard to know what to do about physical security.”

Umbrella’s goal is to make it very easy for the activists to approach security issues and, while doing so, let them keep complete focus on the human rights tasks at hand.

Matt Timblin, who is the Director of Security at Human Rights Watch said, “Managing the safety of staff and collaborators in insecure environments, across multiple locations and facing an array of threats can be challenging. The prospect of an easily accessible ‘one stop shop’ app, such as Umbrella, that allows quick access to security advice is an exciting and innovative development in helping improve the security of those working as human rights activists, humanitarians and journalists around the world.”

Currently, free to download, the Umbrella app is available for Android only. You can visit the Google store to download the Beta version here.

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