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HomeAfricaUnder Scrutiny: Hackers Target Human Rights Activists in Morocco and Western Sahara

Under Scrutiny: Hackers Target Human Rights Activists in Morocco and Western Sahara

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Human rights activists play a vital role in holding governments accountable and advocating for justice. However, their dedication to positive change often places them in the crosshairs of those who seek to silence dissent.

Recent reports indicate that human rights activists in Morocco and the disputed Western Sahara region are being targeted by hackers in a concerning escalation of digital threats. Let’s delve into the details of these attacks, explore the potential consequences, and provide crucial cybersecurity advice to protect activists on the front lines.

Digital Espionage: Starry Addax Targets Activists

Cisco Talos, a cybersecurity threat intelligence group, has identified a new threat actor dubbed “Starry Addax” targeting human rights activists associated with the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in Morocco and Western Sahara. Starry Addax utilizes a combination of phishing emails and fake websites designed to compromise activist devices and steal sensitive information.

Phishing for Information: Deceptive Tactics Employed

Starry Addax’s phishing emails typically masquerade as legitimate communications from trusted sources, such as the Sahara Press Service, a news agency aligned with the SADR. These emails entice recipients to click on malicious links that download fake mobile apps or redirect them to bogus login pages designed to steal usernames, passwords, and other sensitive data.

Beyond Stolen Logins: Potential Impact of the Attacks

A successful attack by Starry Addax could have severe consequences for human rights activists, including:

  • Exposure of Sensitive Information: Compromised credentials could grant attackers access to confidential communications, reports, and other sensitive data related to human rights activities.
  • Disruption of Operations: Malware infections or data breaches could disrupt communication channels and hinder the ability of activists to carry out their work.
  • Physical Safety Concerns: Stolen information could be used to identify and target activists for offline harassment or intimidation.

10 Cybersecurity Best Practices for Human Rights Activists

Here are 10 essential cybersecurity practices human rights activists can adopt to minimize their risk:

  1. Be Wary of Phishing Emails: Scrutinize email addresses and sender names carefully for inconsistencies. Don’t click on suspicious links or attachments.
  2. Strong Passwords and MFA: Utilize strong, unique passwords for all online accounts and enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) wherever possible.
  3. Verify App Downloads: Only download applications from trusted sources like official app stores.
  4. Beware of Fake Login Pages: Double-check website URLs before entering login credentials. Look for the padlock symbol and HTTPS encryption in the address bar.
  5. Use a Password Manager: Consider using a password manager to generate and store strong passwords for different accounts.
  6. Update Software Regularly: Promptly install security updates for your operating systems, applications, and web browsers.
  7. Encrypt Sensitive Data: Encrypt sensitive data on your devices and cloud storage to render it unusable in case of a breach.
  8. Use a VPN for Sensitive Activities: Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.
  9. Be Aware of Your Surroundings: Maintain physical security of your devices and avoid using them in public places where someone might observe your screen.
  10. Security Awareness Training: Invest in security awareness training to learn about the latest cyber threats and best practices to stay safe online.

Conclusion

The targeting of human rights activists in Morocco and Western Sahara highlights the growing challenges faced by those advocating for social change in the digital age. By adopting robust cybersecurity measures and remaining vigilant, human rights activists can significantly decrease their risk of falling victim to cyberattacks and continue their vital work. Remember, cybersecurity is an ongoing process, and staying informed about evolving threats is crucial for staying a step ahead of malicious actors.

Ouaissou DEMBELE
Ouaissou DEMBELEhttps://cybercory.com
Ouaissou DEMBELE is an accomplished cybersecurity professional and the Editor-In-Chief of cybercory.com. He has over 10 years of experience in the field, with a particular focus on Ethical Hacking, Data Security & GRC. Currently, Ouaissou serves as the Co-founder & Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at Saintynet, a leading provider of IT solutions and services. In this role, he is responsible for managing the company's cybersecurity strategy, ensuring compliance with relevant regulations, and identifying and mitigating potential threats, as well as helping the company customers for better & long term cybersecurity strategy. Prior to his work at Saintynet, Ouaissou held various positions in the IT industry, including as a consultant. He has also served as a speaker and trainer at industry conferences and events, sharing his expertise and insights with fellow professionals. Ouaissou holds a number of certifications in cybersecurity, including the Cisco Certified Network Professional - Security (CCNP Security) and the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), ITIL. With his wealth of experience and knowledge, Ouaissou is a valuable member of the cybercory team and a trusted advisor to clients seeking to enhance their cybersecurity posture.

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