Digital safety best practices when attending conferences

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LED traffic lights in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden.

Wikimania is almost here! As you get ready for your travels or attend the conference online don’t forget about your digital safety. Below we have compiled a few best practices to accompany you on your travels, for Wikimania and beyond.

Wikimania presents exciting opportunities for us to connect as fellow Wikimedians, share ideas and have a good time; traveling and attending online sessions, however, presents digital safety risks. Below my team and I have compiled a few best practices as you attend this year’s Wikimania.

Audio visual sharing

Whether you’re posting on Instagram, creating a TikTok video, or uploading photos to Commons, remember to be respectful of people’s privacy and seek their permission before sharing content that includes them. While many may display their preferences through lanyards, it’s only respectful to get their explicit consent. See here the conference’s audio visual policy for more details.

On online sessions

When attending online sessions, be aware if you are being recorded, as it may capture all voice, video, and text from the meeting. And before switching on your camera or sharing your screen, consider what information may appear and make sure confidential information is not visible.

Backup your data

Before heading to the conference, backup all your essential data, either on the cloud or an external storage device. In the unfortunate event of device theft, loss, or damage, having a recent backup will save you from losing valuable information and ensure a smoother recovery process.

Be wary of phishing attempts

Cybercriminals may take advantage of the excitement surrounding Wikimania to launch phishing attacks. These deceptive emails or messages often masquerade as legitimate organizations and aim to trick you into revealing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links. Always double-check the sender’s email address or phone number and verify any suspicious requests before taking action.

Encrypt your devices

Encrypting your devices is a powerful defense against unauthorized access to your data, and it plays a vital role in enhancing your overall digital safety. Whether it’s your laptop, smartphone, or tablet, encrypting these devices adds an extra layer of protection to your information, ensuring that even if your device falls into the wrong hands, your data remains secure.

Consider installing a VPN or Tor

These tools either help provide a secure network connection or mask your internet activity through relays, which is most important when you are away from home. While a trusted VPN or Tor is a good idea whenever you’re connected to the internet, it becomes even more crucial while traveling to safeguard your network traffic on insecure networks, such as at airports or hotels.

Looking to charge your device?

When traveling, no doubt you’ll have your cell phone or another portable device you’ll need to recharge at some point. While convenient, be aware that using free USB port charging stations,  such as those found in airports and hotel lobbies can lead to data theft or malware installation on your device. As such, carry your own charger and USB cord and use an electrical outlet instead. Also, if you’re using another person’s device (like a laptop) to charge your own, a prompt regarding data sharing or trusting the device might pop up – make  sure to decline.

Regarding public-wifi
Especially when we are traveling, we are more likely to use freely available public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi networks present opportunities for threats like man-in-the-middle attacks and data interception. If possible, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your internet connection, adding an extra layer of protection when accessing sensitive information on public networks.

Also, keep an eye out for a blog post about the virtual digital safety clinic at Wikimania 2023.

Other resources:

  • Test your digital safety risks through this simple and fun Wiki.learn module. Available in English, Russian and Arabic.
  • Check-out the digital safety resources page
  • The Digital First Aid Kit (DFAK) provides some preliminary self-diagnostic support for people facing the most common types of digital threats. (Available in: ar, es, fr, id, my, pt, ru, sq, th,)

See additional posts in this Safety and Advocacy series:

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