Possible threats you face when using Internet
- If you publicly express an opinion against the authorities on the Internet, expect that you or your family will most probably be threatened by Moukhabarats.
- Torture is also known to be used as retaliation measure (shown by the example of Ali Farzat) and to force people to give up their Facebook login and password in order to identify and capture their friends, relatives and associates.
- Publishing a simple song on the Internet can lead you to death, like Ibrahim Qashoosh who had his throat cut because of a song he invented.
- These risks are real and extremely serious. Lots of people have already died because of their Internet activities, which the Syrian government considered a threat to their power.
Means of communication that can put you in danger
- Skype should be avoided. The company has been caught providing governments with access to users data in the past.
- Facebook, MSN, Gmail and Google+ are known to be monitored by the Syrian government to keep track of all potential opponents. They use fake accounts to fool people and spy on them and their friends. They steal passwords by means of either monitoring or torture. All chat data on Facebook, Yahoo, MSN and Gtalk are not secure and can be seen by authorities.
- Web browsing is monitored and censored at all times using equipment manufactured by an American company called BlueCoat, and bought by the Syrian government. Every Google/Yahoo search you do and every comment you post either on a blog or on Facebook is for sure intercepted and stored. Some websites are censored to prevent Syrian citizens from accessing to information that authorities unilaterally consider as unwanted.
- Do not use Ultrasurf, it has been reported to send private data to servers that have not been identified yet.
- Internet cafés are the worst possible traps. Every key you strike, website you visit, application you start or word you say through Skype can be recorded thanks to pre-installed spying software. Moukhabarats are highly present in Internet cafés.
- Assume every phone call can be listened to by authorities (either cell phone or landline). Never transmit sensitive information by telephone.
Simple precautions to guarantee minimal safety
- Use antivirus software to scan your computers for malwares that can track your activity even on your own computer.
- Change your passwords often, use complicated passwords.
- On the Web, use httpS:// instead of http:// as often as possible. The s stands for SSL and encrypts the flow of data between you and the website, making it much more difficult to read by authorities, even if intercepted. Example: SSL-secured Google search is available at https://www.google.com.
- Never transmit passwords or any sensitive information to non-HTTPS websites, as they will be intercepted and stored by authorities without effort.
- Never ask Google to send you a text message on your cellphone to recover an account.
- Authorities also try to spy on HTTPS connections, but it can be detected with simple verifications that we describe here.
- Never reveal information that can personally identify you or your associates on the Internet. Change your online identity often (use multiple aliases to disguise who you are).
- Remove the battery from your cell phone (cell phones can be used to locate your position in real time).
- Always remember that the safest way of communication is a physical one-to-one conversation while walking in the street.
Software to communicate more safely
- Prefer browsing with Firefox.
- Use Tor to scramble the path between your computer and websites you visit, thus increasing your anonymity. Download Tor-enabled Firefox package in Arabic or English. Tor can also help you accessing censored websites.
- Usage of HTTPS can be enforced on many websites with the Firefox plugin HTTPS Everywhere, available here.
- Another plugin can help in detecting attempts to spy on HTTPS connections, it is named Certificate Patrol.
Safe E-mail Communication:
Discrete Message Broadcasting:
- http://m.essag.es provides an efficient way to publish encrypted messages quickly. Write your message, encrypt it with two keys and broadcast the URL. The same keys are used for decryption.
Voice Communication (Secure Skype Replacement):
- Telecomix provides a Mumble server. Download Mumble and connect to hello.ceops.eu or talk.endno.de. These servers are SSL-secured. This software is simple and allows chatrooms and private chats. You can connect through Tor so that authorities will not even notice you are using Mumble.
- Encourage your family and friends to do the same, so that you do not rely on Skype anymore.
- Google Talk, MSN and Facebook chat can be used more securely thanks to Pidgin with OTR extension enabled. Use all your accounts from Pidgin and make sure OTR is active in all conversations.
- Telecomix provides HTTPS Web access to a simple and anonymous Internet Relay Chat server. It is available at https://chat.werebuild.eu/?channels=opsyria. It allows for secure private communication as well as chatrooms.
- Many IRC servers exist, most of them accepting secure (SSL) connections. IRC clients such as X-Chat can be used.
Troubles downloading software ?
Authorities may be forbidding the download of some software we mention here. We prepared counter-measures and provide alternative links for most essential software at the bottom of this page.
Who are we ?
- This message comes from people of the Internet called Telecomix, who support freedom of speech and fight against censorship and invasion of privacy.
- We have supported free communication in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
- We have hacked into Syrian Telecommunications Establishment's network and unveiled a vast surveillance infrastructure. Your Internet activity is monitored by your government.
- We have caused this Internet breakdown to try to help you recover a full freedom of speech on the Internet. You are undergoing extreme Internet restriction and surveillance, which are considered a violation of basic human rights.
- We wrote this document to increase Syrian people's awareness on the dangers they incur and to give protective tools. You can find a shorter, printable version here.
- We are not seeking money and are not endorsed with any government or corporation. We are individual activists gathered around the idea of freedom of expression.
Let the world know what is going on:
- Telecomix can help you get the word out while protecting your identity. Videos, sounds, texts, testimonies, leaked documents, or any sensitive data can be anonymously published.
- You are very welcome on our secure and totally anonymous Internet Relay Chat, simply accessible through this URL: https://chat.werebuild.eu/?channels=opsyria. All you have to do is to choose a nickname and connect. We can give you additional advices.
- Red Cross (USA) - phone: +1 2023035000
- Human Rights First - phone: +1 2128455200 - fax: +1 2025435999
- International Human Rights Federation (FIDH, France) - phone: +33 143552518 - fax: +33 143551880 - email@example.com
- Al Jazeera - phone: +974 44897446 - fax: +974 44897472
- New York Times - phone: +1 2125561831
- CNN - phone: +1 4048782276 - fax: +1 4048271995
- ABC News - phone: +1 2129754321
- BBC - phone: +44 2084332221 - fax: +44 2084333266
- We strongly hope to hear from many of you.