Academic Researcher ? How Do I Protect Myself?
Academic researchers often spend a lot of their time thinking about how to reduce threats. In that situation, they often get numerous threats while conducting their research. Also, there is a dark history of abuses in human subjects’ research. So then, research ethics have become a deeply ingrained part of institutional review and methods training. So, what can I do to protect myself while conducting research?
Academic Researcher? How Do I Protect Myself?
Currently, researchers have been getting threats from an increased number of sources. Following that, minimizing harm may be evolving in the digital age. There is no simple way of conducting research ethically in mass surveillance. Yet, there are techniques researchers can employ to protect their data securely. Moreover, the methods keep participants informed of the evolving risks.
Today, we are looking at a new playlist for Surveillance Self-Defense. It will help researchers navigate the challenges involved in conducting research securely.
Ethical Academic Researchers Require Encryption
The Belmont Report is the best document discussing ethical guidelines for research. For instance, it says researchers should help participants assess the risks involved. In addition, the researchers have a fundamental moral obligation to minimize risks.
Likewise, the rules apply to online research. Thus, participants should be aware of the digital risks involved in a project. Even so, the risks may vary depending on the following:
The community involved
The method of research
The researcher’s relationship to the community.
After that, they could include:
The probability that identifiable information may get exposed
The risk of leaving a data trail in communicating about the research
The possibility that the data collected could get subpoenaed by authorities.
For example, when communicating with a participant, research should ensure there is privacy. However, anonymizing data successfully has become a significant challenge. Furthermore, a small amount of data could get used to de-anonymize a person. Again, researchers must be careful to regulate risks when choosing to share data.
Above all, understanding the risks is an essential element of methods for training researchers.
Protecting Data from Harm
Note that researchers face new challenges in keeping data safe. Most of the time, unpublished data attract third parties. Hence, acts like using a stronger passphrase and encrypting your hard drive could help significantly. This is more crucial to researchers who conduct fieldwork and travel for conferences.
Other targets for attacks include private communications among academic researchers. In the case of the Climategate incident, a server got breached by unknown attackers. As a result, the attackers copied many emails and documents. After some time, the data got posted online.
Prompted by that, research should learn safe procedures to store and delete research data.
How To Create strong passwords
Reusing passwords is a risky security practice. In fact, a hacker can get a password that has gotten used across many services. In turn, they could access the accounts. For that reason, having numerous strong and unique passwords is very crucial. Luckily, a password manager can help.
It is a tool that creates and stores passwords for you. With that, you can use various passwords on different sites without memorizing them.
A password manager does the following:
Generates strong passwords that are impossible to guess
Stores several passwords safely
Has a single master password that protects all your passwords
An example of a free and open-source password manager is KeePassXC. You can either integrate the tool into your web browser or keep it on your desktop. Nevertheless, a password manager isn’t the right tool when facing a powerful adversary.
Are you worried about expensive digital attacks? You can consider something law-tech. For instance, create a strong password manually and write it down. Remember to keep it stored safely.
To further protect your accounts from hackers, enable two-factor authentication. Otherwise known as two-step verification, it requires users to have two components. These are a password and a second factor, and they help you access your account.
When using a phone, two-factor authentication can be done in two ways:
Your phone could run an authenticator app that generates security codes. Also, you could use a stand-alone hardware device.
The service could send you an SMS text message. The message has an extra security code that you need in order to log in.
But we recommend using the authenticator app or stand-alone hardware device. The reason being, it’s easy for an attacker to redirect codes to their phone. Besides, Google allows you to generate a list of one-time passwords.
Keeping Your Information Secure As An Academic Researcher
If you own a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, you’re carrying a large amount of data. Private communications and personal documents are examples of data stored in digital devices. Because data can easily be taken from you, it is hard to keep safe. Unfortunately, data can get seized and posted on the dark web.
In turn, criminals could buy the data in the black market. To access the darknet, you require an anonymizing browser like Tor. Dark web users use Tor to avoid getting tracked.
Now, most computers and smartphones offer complete, full-disk encryption. For Android smartphones, encryption gets provided. That happens when you first set up your device on newer devices. Additionally, anytime afterward under its Security settings for all devices. For Apple devices, describe it as “Data Protection” and activate it if you set a passcode.
Linux distributions offer full-disk encryption when you first set up your system. For windows, a feature called BitLocker provides full-disk encryption. As you can see, computers also get well covered.
Maintaining a secure environment can be challenging. So then, you can consider cordoning off valuable data onto a more secure device. Thus, you can use the device to keep the primary copy of your data. Remember only to use the device occasionally and consciously.
How To Delete Your Data Securely
Note that when you delete and move a file to the trash folder, it does get erased completely. For that reason, computers don’t “delete” files; they just allow them to be overwritten.
We recommend using BleachBit as an open-source deletion tool for Windows and Linux. Still, unavoidable traces of erased may persist on your computer. This is because some parts of the Operating System or other programs keep a record of them. They do that deliberately.
Academic researchers require a set of skills to deal with threats.
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