For the past six years, we have pioneered an innovative partnership with Constitutional Communications to protect and secure BIPOC and grassroots organizations from right-wing data theft, mass surveillance, and hacking. As we enter the seventh year of our partnership, the Digital Security Cohort, we have trained over 200 technology staff and leaders embedded in over 170, primarily BIPOC led organizations, in cutting-edge digital security tools and perspectives. And while some folks might see digital security as “tech” or something that could happen “in addition to” the organization’s other work, we see it as an integral part of strengthening, flanking, and supporting movement organizations.
After witnessing the devastating effectiveness of digital attacks on politicians, voters, and funders during the 2016 election, we watched horrified over the next four years as hard right-wing media outlets and individuals leveraged similar hacking tactics on a broad range of movement organizations and leaders including Anti-Racist Action, Free Press, Black Lives Matter, Fight for the Future, and the Sunrise movement.
The vast majority of these right wing attacks on social movements used common tactics like phishing or ransomware to undermine our organizations. The good news is that these types of attacks are preventable with accessible perspectives and free tools. However, a report by Microsoft Philanthropies found that 74% of nonprofit groups still don’t use multi-factor authentication and 60% don’t have a digital policy to ensure resilience from these rightwing attacks.
1. We Demystify Digital Security
Too many groups have been told that digital security should be treated the way most folks approach speed limits, as an impediment to progress. The reasoning often assumes that organizational digital security is something to be broken because it will otherwise slow down the progress to your group’s destination. However, with appropriate digital security guidance, tools, and support we turn digital security knowledge into something like a seat belt; a helpful tool that only takes a second to engage, but which provides significant safety, and that most people are horrified to go without. Our cohort moves groups to practices that they can click and forget, but that will keep their information from flying out in the advent of a hack or computer crash.
2. We Emphasize Ongoing Processes
Strategizing a plan to keep your organization safe can feel overwhelming. However, being in a peer group with the guidance of our digital security experts brings ease to your journey. The process of walking through straightforward tools and then reflecting on them contributes to making digital security feel close-to-home and manageable rather than convoluted and overly theoretical.
3. We Focus on Action
Most digital attacks exploit common vulnerabilities. That’s why we consistently emphasize tools and perspectives to secure those areas of exposure. We help folks identify what a culture of safety looks like for your organization and work with you to manifest it into specific actions so you can hit the ground running after graduating from our 6-week program!
Until we recognize the way digital security has become central to our work and then bring that recognition to scale, our entire movement infrastructure remains vulnerable to the opposition. Our 6-week digital security program is one of the ways we stand in solidarity and do the larger work of defending and protecting our movement ecosystem.
Join us for our Spring Cohort every Friday from April 1st – May 6th!