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Staying safe online in Afghanistan

Updated: May 2, 2023

Since the collapse of the Afghan government and the takeover by Taliban forces, many ordinary Afghans have been the target of some unscrupulous hackers trying to make money out of their desperation.

This article by Reuters highlights just one of the ways that hackers are using their techniques to achieve this and gain access to people's devices.

Top Tips - Staying safe online

The SEPAR team have put together a few tips to stay safe online in these testing times:

Digital Literacy

  1. Take some time to understand the digital landscape in Afghanistan

    1. Updated digital risks in Afghanistan

    2. Active and reliable mobile companies

    3. Active and reliable internet service providers

    4. Alternative communication methods

Digital Situational Awareness

  1. On arrival, get acquainted with the digital environment and learn from the locals on the digital do’s and don'ts.

  2. If not required for use, avoid exposing you equipment

Access Control

  1. Habituate access control practices ie from mobile phone, laptop to website passwords

  2. Make it strong

Digital Hygiene

  1. Tidy up your digital environment, from desktops to social media profiles.

  2. Ensure you have installed applications to help scan, identify and mitigate risks. This includes anti-malware and firewalls

Profile Management

  1. Manage your digital personal and professional profiles before going in. Based on your personal and professional risk levels, evaluate the risk exposure from your digital profile

Information Management

  1. Before going to the country, identify the data and information at hand. Classify their sensitivity.

  2. Sensitive data or information should be accorded the safety management practices they deserve.

  3. Avoid having sensitive at hand. If possible, access it remotely or utilize encryption methods to secure the data in storage drives

  4. Employ backup practices where possible.

Secure Communications

  1. Use secure communications where possible

    1. SMS: Avoid if possible. It is not secure. If internet is disconnected, use Silence App to send secure encrypted SMS

    2. Internet: Use secure apps to communicate ie Signal, WhatsApp, Wire

  2. If sending sensitive information, even via secure apps, enable “disappearing” messages or “secret” chats to erase messages after a set period of time.

  3. For emails, avoid sensitive subject titles. The body of the email might be secure, but the subject might not be encrypted during transmission.

  4. Use a VPN where possible.

For further information on digital security in Afghanistan or other hostile locations please contact the team

Alternatively SEPAR International HEAT/HEFAT Courses cover modules on digital security. For more information on what courses are available in which countries please click here

**Please note given the changing circumstances in Afghanistan some information may be subject to change. SEPAR International makes no claim as to the accuracy of the information or to the validity of the assessments and conclusions contained within this document.


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