2009-07-23

The Phantom of the Delete Button

From time to time people decide that they no longer need to keep a piece of information. For example, your backup copies of a particular file are sufficient, and you want to delete the master, what is the best way to do so? When you delete a file, even after you empty the Recycle bin, the contents of that file remain on your hard drive and can be recovered by anyone who has the right tools and a little luck. From a purely technical perspective, there is no such thing as a delete function on your computer.

Of course, you can drag a file to the Recycle Bin and empty the bin, but all this really does is clear the icon, remove the file's name from on your computer, and tell Windows that it can use the space for something else. Until it actually does use that space, the space will be occupied by the contents of the deleted information, much like drawers of files with labels on each drawer, what happens is removing the label but the drawer still contain the files. This is why, if you have the right software and act quickly enough, you can restore information that you've deleted by accident.

You should also keep in mind that files are created and insecurely deleted, without your knowledge, every time you use your computer.  Suppose, for example, that you are writing a large report. It may take you a week working several hours each day, and every time the document is saved, Windows will create a new copy of the document and store it on your hard drive. After a few days of editing, you may have unknowingly saved several versions of the document, all at different stages of completion. Windows generally deletes the old versions of a file, of course, but it does not look for the exact location of the original in order to overwrite it securely when a new copy is made. Instead, it simply puts the latest version into a new place of the metaphorical drawer mentioned above, and moves the label from the old drawer to the new one, and leaves the previous draft where it was until some other program needs to use that space.

So obviously, if you have a good reason to destroy all traces of the documents from your drawers, removing the latest copy is not going to be enough.  

What to do? Wiping information with secure deletion tools

 You need to you use a secure deletion tool, it would be more accurate to say that you are replacing, or 'overwriting' your sensitive information, rather than simply deleting it. If you imagine that the documents stored in those metaphorical drawer discussed above are written in pencil, then secure deletion software not only erases the content, but will scribble over the top of every word. And, much like pencil lead, digital information can still be read, albeit poorly, even after it has been erased and something has been written over the top of it.

Because of this, the tools recommended here overwrite files with random data several times.  This process is called wiping, and the more times information is overwritten, the more difficult it becomes for someone to recover the original content. 

Software Recommended: Eraser and CCleaner. Please go through the Help manual before installing and using them. 

*Reference: documents prepared jointly between Tactical Technology Collective and Front Line Foundation

2009-07-22

Amnesty International: Egyptian Government should Immediately Release Musaad Abu Fagr & Karim Amer

Amnesty International issued a public statement  today (22 of July 09), calling on President Hosni Mubarak to order an immediate and unconditional release of Musaad Abu Fagr and Karim Amer, prisoners of conscience who have both been held for more than 18 months. Musaad Abu Fagr continues to be detained without charge or trial despite repeated court orders for his release, while a leading UN human rights body has declared Karim Amer’s imprisonment “arbitrary” and called for his release.

Karim Amer, is a blogger who was sentenced to four years in prison in 2007, is also held at Borg al-Arab Prison. He too is a prisoner of conscience. He was tried and imprisoned for criticizing President Mubarak and Egypt’s al-Azhar religious authorities in his blog. He was convicted of “inciting strife and defaming Muslims on the internet by describing the Prophet of Islam and his comrades as murderers, which disturbs national peace”; and “insulting the President of the Republic by writing on the internet”.


Musaad Abu Fagr, is a novelist, human rights activist and founder of the Sinai-based movement Wedna Na’ish (We Want to Live). He was arrested in December 2007 following demonstrations in al-Arish, North Sinai involving Wedna Na’ish supporters and others who were demanding the permits to build houses.

2009-07-12

Egypt: No to Illegal Confiscation of Personal Devices

On the 30th of June 2009, the security officers at Cairo International Airport have detained an activist blogger, Wael Abbas, who frequently writes about torture cases and police abuse in Egypt. Mr. Abbas was also frisked and the officers confiscated his laptop computer and other belongings.
By this conduct the police violated the following articles of the Egyptian constitution which says:

Article 41:"…no person may be arrested, inspected, detained or his freedom restricted or prevented from free movement except by an or necessitated by investigations and preservation of the security…"
Article 42:"…Any person may not be detained or imprisoned except in places defined by laws organizing prisons…"
Article 45:"…wires, telephone calls and other means of communication shall have their own sanctity and secrecy and may not be confiscated or monitored except by a causal judicial warrant…"
Actually confiscating personal devices such as mobiles, laptops, cameras, portable hard-drives during social peaceful protests, in the airports and different other places became a remarkable trend followed by the Security Services.
Such devices may contain personal information, pictures and files which should not be uncovered without judicial warrant. Further over Bloggers, Human Rights Defenders and Political Activists, especially in the Arab region, are highly subjected to this kind of threats, intimidations and violations.
Consequently, a group of Egyptian bloggers ,including Mr. Abbas, and human rights activists, came-up with the idea of designing a Badge to be used on Blogs and Websites having the following title: No to Illegal Confiscation of Personal Devices.
A Facebook Event was created to circulate the badge and to invite people to support.
How can you help?
- Add the badge to your blog/website.
- Write articles about the issue of illegal and extrajudicial confiscation of personal belongings.
- Invite your friends to do the same.

Support the Cause, Put the Badge and Spread the Word.
* By EBfHR Editor, Published on Global Voices Online

2009-07-10

Steadfast in Protest

Movement Under Control, Brutal Repression of Social Movements, Constant Pressure on the Media, NGOs Under Surveillance...

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) launches its Annual Report 2009.

Several countries in the region – Syria since 1963, Egypt since 1981 and Algeria since 1992 – remained under a state of emergency. Inherent emergency legislation provided a legal framework for certain attacks on human rights, especially the right to a fair trial. Indeed, civilians, including human rights defenders, continued to be tried by special courts set up through emergency legislation (Egypt, Syria).

2009-07-02

When it comes to New Media..Simultaneous Attacks by Several States

In the last couple of weeks, several governments started direct and clear online war on social media tools such as Blogs and Twitter.
This kind of online repression and banding attitude by the governments is considered as an indicator for the real positive effect achieved from employing the new media tools in democratic transformation and political reform.
Actually this kind of media tools causes kind of political embarrassment for the government specially when it comes to violating human rights and aborting any social mobilization.

In China ,from few days, Google was blocked for two hours, including search, Gmail and other applications. Although some ISPs have restored the access in couple of hours, a number of Tweets said that Google has still been blocked in some parts of China.
And a serious development has been approached by the Nigerian government, when it budgeted $5 million to face new media tools and bloggers, which makes blogging difficult on the practical leve.

In the last election crisis in Iran and attracting international attention to what’s happening; the Revolutionary Guard Warned Iranian Web Sites, Bloggers Not To "Create Tension" and blocked Twitter, MySpace, Facebook.

Also in Guatemala, users reported blocked access to Wordpress since Friday (26 June 09) and for sure the blogs hosted by Wordpress were also blocked. Other blogs and tweets demand respect for freedom of expression in Guatemala.

It’s very obvious that different countries are starting to develop new strategies to face the new media tools and they are starting an online war.