Global nonprofit Internews has partnered with cybersecurity company ESET to distribute antivirus software to civil society and at-risk groups worldwide. The pilot project will protect more than 1000 devices, reaching a network of journalists, human rights groups, and members of civil society who are highly vulnerable to digital threats.
“These licenses will fill a critical gap among the most at-risk communities around the globe,” said Megan DeBlois, Information Security Advisor at Internews. “The consequences of online attacks against human rights defenders can be life altering — leading to silencing, arrests, or worse. We’re grateful to partner with ESET for helping us provide stronger protections to human rights defenders at such a vital time for information provision.”
Internews supports media organizations and other information providers globally with resources, training, and funding so they can deliver trustworthy and accurate information to local communities. This includes providing direct technological support to those working in some of the most restrictive regimes worldwide.
“We’re thrilled to be working with Internews to help better protect those on the front lines, the people providing information at this time of crisis,” said Alexis Dorais-Joncas, Security Intelligence Team Lead at ESET. “First responders in human rights communities often operate with very limited resources while they face some of the most advanced and dedicated threat actors. It’s meaningful to all of us at ESET to be able to support these communities with high-quality tools and protections that might not be available to them otherwise.”
“This pilot project with ESET enables beneficiaries to access antivirus tools which are otherwise prohibitively expensive, limited to free-tier services, in short supply for NGO licenses, and/or reliant on advertising models,” said Jon Camfield, director of Global Technology Strategy at Internews. “While antivirus is not a cure-all or appropriate for all threat models, it is a critical tool for reducing risk.”
The Internews/ESET partnership is intended to strengthen connections between civil society and the private sector, enabling a greater exchange of ideas and needs from end users to tech developers. This connection is a core principle of Internews’ global technology efforts.
“Identifying and flagging malign actions helps improve security for everyone, not just the individual or group targeted,” said DeBlois. “As companies like ESET have greater visibility into the offensive tactics being deployed against civil society, they’re even better equipped to design effective defensive strategies to protect all users from these advanced threat actors.”
The initiative comes as cyberattacks are on the rise as more and more people move to operating online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and forms part of Internews’ broader work in ensuring vital information can reach all sectors of society at this crucial time.