“Why do you lock the front door of your house? Why do you have separate keys for separate rooms of the house?” These were some of the simple questions that Farieha Aziz, Co-founder and Director at Bolo Bhi, asked the audience.

Aziz was making a presentation at the session ‘Challenges of Digital Security for Media’organized by the Centre for Excellence in Journalism (CEJ) and the Centre for Information and Communication Technology at IBA.

This session was part of the 17th ITCN Asia 2017 – the mega 3-day event – which was held in Karachi through September 19-21, 2017 at Karachi Expo Centre.

She said that people – even journalists – don’t understand the importance of protecting their devices and personal data that can be used against them.

Aziz was emphasising on the importance of having strong passwords to protect data on our devices and different social media platforms.

Her message was reiterated in the other two presentations also part of the session, which were presented by Omar R Quraishi of Samaa TV and Lubna Jerar Naqvi of Geo News.

Both speakers focused on protection from digital attacks that are increasing on the media and journalists all over the world.

Omar R Quraishi said that journalists should be trained regarding their digital security and that not only English and Urdu media, but regional journalists should also be trained to protect their data.

He said that those working in smaller cities and for regional media are more vulnerable and need to be aware to at least protect themselves in cyber space.

“Media houses and unions should hold workshops and trainings in digital security so that journalists are aware of the dangers and how to protect themselves online.” Said Lubna Jerar Naqvi.

These presentations was followed by a panel discussion comprising Norbert Almeida, Crisis & Risk Manager,Muhammad Zaeem, Dep. Dir. Crime Circle FIA, Shahzeb Ahmed, lecturer at CEJ, Omar R Quraishi,Lubna JerarNaqvi  and Farieha Aziz.

The discussion was moderated by Kamal Siddiqi – Director CEJ.

Many important points were discussed during this session including the pros and cons of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2015(PECA) and how it affects the work of a journalist.

As well as how journalists are unprepared and unaware of the dangers of cyber-attacks on them and their media organizations, and the repercussions of these.

Muhammad Zaeem, Dep. Dir. Crime Circle FIA, spoke about the misconceptions that journalists have regarding the PECA and said that journalists needed to discuss and understand the scope of this law before condemning it.

The problem of fake news and lack of verification also came under discussion – and the panellists agreed that there was a need for awareness not only for journalists but for other internet users as well.

One important problem that came out of the discussion was that journalists had no idea who to turn to or what to do in the event of a digital attack.

But more importantly, they need to be made aware of the types of digital attacks they can encounter in the cyber world.

Apart from this, all the panelists agreed that the majority of journalists do not only need holistic training in cyber security to reduce digital attacks but also be trained to take simple steps like locking their phones with a password or pattern to protect their data in case of theft.

This was followed by a healthy and passionate Q&A session in which the audience asked pertinent questions not only about digital security but also about PECA and how it has changed journalism and the social media scene in general. –Courtesy The News

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