While online violence is alarmingly common globally, women are often more likely to be the target of mass online attacks, nonconsensual leaks of sensitive information and content, and other forms of online violence. 

This International Women’s Day, visit EFF’s Surveillance Self-Defense (SSD) to learn how to defend yourself and your friends from surveillance. In addition to tutorials for installing and using security-friendly software, SSD walks you through concepts like making a security plan, the importance of strong passwords, and protecting metadata.

1. Make Your Own Security Plan

This IWD, learn what a security plan looks like and how you can build one. Trying to protect your online data—like pictures, private messages, or documents—from everything all the time is impractical and exhausting. But, have no fear! Security is a process, and through thoughtful planning, you can put together a plan that’s best for you. Security isn’t just about the tools you use or the software you download. It begins with understanding the unique threats you face and how you can counter those threats. 

2. Protect Yourself on Social Networks

Depending on your circumstances, you may need to protect yourself against the social network itself, against other users of the site, or both. Social networks are among the most popular websites on the internet. Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram each have over a billion users. Social networks were generally built on the idea of sharing posts, photographs, and personal information. They have also become forums for organizing and speaking. Any of these activities can rely on privacy and pseudonymity. Visit our SSD guide to learn how to protect yourself.

3. Tips for Attending Protests

Keep yourself, your devices, and your community safe while you make your voice heard. Now, more than ever, people must be able to hold those in power accountable and inspire others through the act of protest. Protecting your electronic devices and digital assets before, during, and after a protest is vital to keeping yourself and your information safe, as well as getting your message out. Theft, damage, confiscation, or forced deletion of media can disrupt your ability to publish your experiences, and those engaging in protest may be subject to search or arrest, or have their movements and associations surveilled. 

4. Communicate Securely with Signal or WhatsApp

Everything you say in a chat app should be private, viewable by only you and the person you're talking with. But that's not how all chats or DMs work. Most of those communication tools aren't end-to-end encrypted, and that means that the company who runs that software could view your chats, or hand over transcripts to law enforcement. That's why it's best to use a chat app like Signal any time you can. Signal uses end-to-end encryption, which means that nobody, not even Signal, can see the contents of your chats. Of course, you can't necessarily force everyone you know to use the communication tool of your choice, but thankfully other popular tools, like Apple's Messages, WhatsApp and more recently, Facebook's Messenger, all use end-to-end encryption too, as long as you're communicating with others on those same platforms. The more people who use these tools, even for innocuous conversations, the better.

On International Women’s Day and every day, stay safe out there! Surveillance self-defense can help.

This blog is part of our International Women’s Day series. Read other articles about the fight for gender justice and equitable digital rights for all.

  1. Four Reasons to Protect the Internet this International Women’s Day
  2. Four Voices You Should Hear this International Women’s Day
  3. Four Actions You Can Take To Protect Digital Rights this International Women’s Day