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Staying Safe on International Women’s Day 2020

I Am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights

The original idea for International Women’s day came from Clara Zetkin, who suggested the idea at an International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, Denmark, all the way back in 1910. The ideas was unanimously agreed upon by 100 women present, from 17 different countries, and the day was first celebrated on March 8, 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. This day became re-energized as a  focusing point for the women’s movement in America in the late sixties, and won United Nations sponsorship in 1975. 2011 marked the International Women’s Day 100th birthday. This year’s109th celebration is placing an emphasis on individual experience sharpened with a generational message of opportunity… for earning true equality.

Here To Help You Celebrate Safely 

We wanted to do our part to help all of our women users celebrate this day by sharing some information that can help keep you safe while enjoying your time online. dfndr security is a great solution, but knowing as much as you can about crimes against women in particular in online environments should be helpful in keeping yourself safe.

Staying safe is the subject we know best, because we love to protect our users, and give everyone the best defense on their mobile devices.

Women Disproportionately Targeted Online

The Women’s Media Center Speech Project offers an outstanding (and very sobering) account of the dangers women face everyday online. We recommend you check out their extraordinarily helpful: Online Abuse 101. The article includes a detailed description of some of the very cruel crimes women experience significantly more often than men:

Sexual Extortion;
Revenge Pornography;
Financial Abuse;

As the WMC article points out, both the kinds and degree of abuse suffered online is also different for women:

“When women are targeted, the abuse is more likely to be gendered, sustained, sexualized and linked to off-line violence. Women […] are the vast majority of the victims of nonconsensual pornography, stalking, electronic abuse and other forms of electronically-enhanced violence.”

Staying On Guard

Unfortunately, there are no easy-fixes to these escalating societal problems — which the fight for Equality in business and political domains only puts into harsher relief.  But the steps women can take to protect themselves online do begin with the same basic steps used to prevent scams, identity theft, and other gender-neutral crimes. Let’s review those briefly before we talk about what you can do if you are victimized….

General Online Security Steps

Be wary of people unknown to you.
Always be skeptical and very careful when approached by anyone unknown to you on the internet. Be especially wary if they ask for financial help or make requests for personal information of any kind. Even seemingly innocent questions about family relations, where you went to school, or whether or not you were at a particular event…all can be ways of extracting more specific data about you. And of course, never share financial or personally identifying information with someone you don’t know, or suspect of ill-will.

Never meet someone you only know online alone.
That’s a simple rule, and a crucial one. Make it your rule too…

Pay close attention whenever the interaction feels odd or unusual.
Don’t be afraid to block people who cross your boundaries. 

Be exceedingly careful about sharing your personal information.
Personal and financial data, photos, and videos are constantly being targeted by malicious people to blackmail others for money, or worse.

Know the rules and security settings for the social site you use, and report abuses promptly.
Yes, the “Settings” and “Security” pages can be a bit tedious at times, but learn the ropes and you’ll feel (and be!) much safer. All major sites have good security capabilities: learn them and use them to your advantage.  Also, learn how to report abuses and violations off site policies.

Use advanced security protection on your phone.
dfndr security, for example, offers protection against scammers, scam links, identity theft, data leakage, and WhatsApp cloning. There are more than 15 functions on dfndr security aimed specifically to enhance your personal security and privacy.

Enable advanced sign-on security mechanisms such as two-factor authentication.  With two-factor authentication, even if a scammer or blackmailer finds out your password, he/she still won’t be able to access your accounts.

What you should do if you are victimized? 

“Without My Consent” is an organization that was originally founded in 2011 with a mission to combat online invasions of privacy. They share information intended to empower individuals to stand up for their privacy rights and protect themselves. Their indispensable guide: Something Can Be Done!  is one of the best online resources for learning the steps you can take if you’re facing online privacy invasion, harassment, or worse. The following are a few general guidelines gleaned from their thorough resource:

First, gather evidence.
The specific and public record of data can be corroborated through technology — so gather all of the evidence you need. WMC’s guide to
Evidence Preservation is very thorough and well worth reading in full!

Then take steps to remove the defaming material.
Contact companies / platforms and reference their policies to assure material in violation (like non-consensual pornography) is immediately taken down. Check this great resource from the
Cyber Civil Rights Initiative for more information on the specific steps to take.

Report the crime.
Take all the evidence you are able to gather to the nearest police station and report it. You may want to access legal counsel as well, and you can also look into your state or local options for issuing a restraining order.

Finally, remember that you’re not alone.
Sometimes reporting these crimes can be frightening, and difficult to do. One of the reasons we wanted to share these resources with you is to help you know what steps to take, and to enable you to act confidently, knowing that there are so many people, dedicated to helping you. (Many of them have been victims too!)  Your friends and family can help you too.  

Part of the spirit of equality of International Women’s Day is reaching out across gender and generational lines to make things better for all women.  Find your squad, reach out, and stay connected. Don’t let cyber criminals isolate you: that’s all part of how they work. Sticking together with your friends may be the best defense of all. 

We Are With You, On This Important Day… And Everyday

We hope we’ve been able to do our small part to help you enjoy a safer day and year ahead with this article. We’ll continue to share the best resources we can find to help you protect yourself online — and the PSafe team will continue to do everything we can to help you use your devices with ever greater ease, confidence, and freedom.

With that, have a safe and inspiring International Women’s Day.