Frontline HR Defenders Report

Physical, emotional and digital protection while using home as office in times of COVID-19


Ideas & tips for human rights defenders from Frontline Human Rights Defenders.

This guide is available in Arabic, French, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Chinese, and Farsi.

Besides the emotional and physical tips, the guide by Frontline Human Rights Defenders discusses IT and technology tips such co-working on documents and spreadsheets with other people using encryptions.

Some of their tips:

You may want to edit simultaneously with others same document using simply your browser on services like:

  • CryptPad – end-to-end encrypted service for editing documents and spreadsheets or organising polls, etc. You can store up to 1GB information for free. You can register for free to have your documents store permanently (without registration documents are deleted after 3 months of inactivity).
  • Riseup Pads – simple documents co-editing. You can set that your document will be deleted after 1 day, 60 days or 1 year. It is using EtherPad software.

Note that both of above services allow everybody who knows the link to your document access and edit it! It is important to guard the link.
There are also commercial solutions similar to above like Google Docs or Microsoft Office 365.

Working remotely, you will certainly want to securely communicate with others. Please note that all regular mobile phone calls and SMS are not secure and your mobile phone company has full access to them. Instead of using those we recommend using one of these end-to-end encrypted free options:

  • Signal: one-on-one text and voice communication and group text communication. We recommend switching on: Settings > Privacy > Screen lock, Screen security, and Registration lock. Also we recommend that you set Disappearing Messages for each conversation you have.
  • Wire: one-on-one or small groups text and voice communication. You can use email to register as well as phone number. Just consider that it is a company
  • Delta Chat: one-on-one and groups text communication. It is well resistant against blocking it as it works over email, so registration with existing email address is required.

Please see our Guide to Secure Group Chat and Conferencing Tools for recommendations on tools and advices on video calls, webinar or online training.

You will most likely want to keep using your regular email. Do observe normal security best practices, like having good password, switching 2-factor authentication, reviewing settings of your email account including are your email not being forwarded to other addresses, what are devices connecting to your email, what is activity on your email account – when account was logged in, etc. – all this depending on availability on your email account. However, in case you need a new secure email address, FLD recommends using:

  • Protonmail – additionally set two-factor authentication (go to Settings > Security and enable two-factor authentication. You’d need to install application andOTPDuo Mobile or Authy on your phone to complete this step and scan the code on the computer screen with this app).
  • Tutanota – additionally setup two-factor authentication (go to Settings > Login > Second factor authentication)

Be aware that only emails between accounts on the same service – Tutanota or Protonmail – are end-to-end encrypted. Emails that are sent outside are not (usually).

Health tracking devices/apps: Some governments have imposed requirements for incoming visitors to download an app and provide one’s mobile phone number so they could track you for public health reasons. These requirements may last longer than necessary. Check with airlines, ministries of foreign affairs or embassies of your destination country, IATA and other authoritative websites before making a decision to travel. If you can, consider running those type of app in a Shelter app profile.

Other guides:

General digital protection guides:

Emotional protection resources: