Why you should care about being digitally secure

SAFE AND SOUND?: At the Internews station, Power Reporting delegates got the chance to have their software and anti-virus checked for safety. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

SAFE AND SOUND?: At the Internews station, Power Reporting delegates got the chance to have their software and anti-virus checked for safety. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Hackers  pose the threat of defacing media organisations or putting news sources at risk.  Besides surveillance by mobile companies and internet service providers, digital safety is most threatened by using pirated software, followed by spam.

Pirated software creates “weaknesses or vulnerabilities” and create an “open window” for hackers, said Dylan Jones from international non-profit organisation Internews.  Surveillance technology poses a greater threat to journalists than regular citizens because journalists collect and work with information.

Pirated software is most well-known as programmes for which the users download and do not pay for. However, some journalists may be using pirated software without even realising it if their devices are set up by others. This puts them, their sources and their work at risk.

Surveillance technology can track your physical location, the calls you make and messages you send and to whom.

Surveillance technology can track your physical location, the calls you make and messages you send and to whom.  It can cause financial loss and theft to individuals, companies and government and journalists can lose years of work, said Jones.

Zimbabwean journalist Winstone Antonio said he was aware of telephone hacking, but he was not sure about the extent to which it happened, or how he could become a victim or the measures to protect himself.  Antonio says as a journalist he is most concerned about “protecting his sources.”

Antonio said he knows using pirated software poses a threat to his work and tries to get a specialist to check his devices regularly.For journalists and delegates at the Power Reporting Conference, Internews set up a work station to check if their mobile devices and laptops have genuine software.  The station offers the free service of updating software with genuine programmes.  Additionally the anti-virus software is checked.

“You can’t trust a pirated anti-virus to protect against malware,” said Jones.

Previously Antonio relied on using strong passwords to protect the different accounts on his devices.  Since attending the session on how to be digitally secure, he learnt that “encryption of data” could be useful in helping him protect his sources.  This works by encoding the data before it is sent to a cloud archive like Google Drive.

“You need to have a secure foundation before you do anything else,”said Jones.  Encrypting data on devices is amongst the most important protection measures.

Apple products and Android devices come with encryption settings to protect data.  However, a lot of countries have laws against using encryption, saidJones.

Jones also suggests practical ways to keep your digital accounts and movements secure.  These include using “real” software and anti-virus applications, updated programmes and two-step verification to protect accounts.

Unnecessary information or messages, photos and videos should be cleared from your device.  Using a password is more effective than a four-digit pin or a swipe-pattern and fingerprint technology.

Although, these solutions are not perfect, they are better than not having any safety measures at all.

This article was featured in the Wits Vuvuzela

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Solidarity with journalists under fire

PRESS POWER: Human rights 'defender' and journalist Rafael Marques de Morais received a standing ovation for his moving address at the third Carlos Cardoso memorial lecture at Wits University this evening.  Photo:  Zelmarie GoosenPRESS POWER: Human rights ‘defender’ and journalist Rafael Marques de Morais received a standing ovation for his  address at Power Reporting’s third Carlos Cardoso memorial lecture. Photo: Zelmarie Goosen

Standing in solidarity with imprisoned Ethiopian journalists, Rafael Marques de Morais received a standing ovation from fellow journalists and other guests, at the Carlos Cardoso memorial lecture held this evening at Wits University.

Human rights activist and journalist, de Morais delivered the address for Power Reporting’s third Carlos Cardoso memorial lecture. He stressed the importance of investigative journalism in advancing democracy and defending the freedom of expression in the face of opposition and fear incited by government authorities.

Driven by “national and civic conscience”, de Morais says he is proud of his work in defending the rights of fellow Angolan citizens through the exposure of conflict diamonds and corruption. “Journalists should defend constitutional rights”, he said to a packed auditorium.

SOLIDARITY BROTHERS:  human rights 'defender' and journalist Rafael Marques de Morais received a standing ovation for his moving address at Power Reporting's third Carlos Cardoso memorial lecture.  Photo:  Zelmarie Goosen

SOLIDARITY BROTHERS: Human rights ‘defender’ and journalist Rafael Marques de Morais received a standing ovation for his moving address at Power Reporting’s third Carlos Cardoso memorial lecture. Photo: Zelmarie Goosen

De Morais criticized the Ethiopian government as an enemy to journalism for arresting and imprisoning journalists. “Journalists and human rights campaigners must be embarrassed for doing little to support our peers in Ethiopia.”

He  also called for a campaign to move the African Union, currently based in Ethiopia, to a country that respects human rights.

Although the challenges of investigative journalists have not changed since de Morais started practicing, he says the Internet has proven to be an advantage in publishing content and reaching wider audiences. De Morais has started his own watchdog website Maka Angola which exposes corruption through his investigations.

De Morais told Wits Vuvuzela that as the values in society have deteriorated, so has the quality of investigative journalism. He says investigative journalists can combat opposition if they realise “government officials are men and women like us”. He says we can limit their abuse of power because “the power comes from the people”.

De Morais said he corresponded with but never met Carlos Cardoso, in whose name the lecture was given. Cardoso, a journalist and a Witsie, was murdered in Maputo in 2000 while working on a investigation into fraud at a major bank.

This article was featured in the Wits Vuvuzela.

Dead body found outside Wits residence

The unidentified body of a small child was discovered in a plastic bag outside Wits University residence Noswall Hall earlier this evening.

A homeless child picked up the bag on Empire Road after it was dropped off by someone in a passing car. The child picked up the packet thinking it contained “something nice,” according to Campus Control officer George Masilo. The child walked up Bertha street and only discovered the body in the packet when he opened it outside Noswall Hall.

The child is still being questioned by the police and was not able to speak to Wits Vuvuzela.  His friends, while reluctant to answer other questions, said the car that dropped the packet off was a VW Polo. At the scene, the police cordoned off the body with barricade tape and cones, and a police car blocked off onlookers.  The body, which bystanders say was wrapped in cello tape, was covered by an insulation blanket. The police were not able to make a statement.

“How dare they … how can you do this to a baby!” said Palesa Hlungwane, 1st year BA, who lives in Diamond House. “What about conscience? What about maternal attachments?”

“I feel bad, it’s so bad to have so many irresponsible mothers in this day and age,” says Nonkululeko Njilo, 1st year BA from Diamond House. “I feel like we’re a lost generation.”

This article was featured in the Wits Vuvuzela.

Yeoville Week 4: Epilogue

VICTORY LAP: Thursday was our last day of shooting, we travelled to Yeoville, Gandhi Square, back to Yeoville and Braam-ies-fontein. Photo: Lutho Mtongana

VICTORY LAP: Thursday was our last day of shooting, we travelled to Yeoville, Gandhi Square, back to Yeoville and Braam-ies-fontein. Photo: Lutho Mtongana

*As part of the in-depth research project, one of the requirements of the BA Honours in Journalism and Media Studies degree at Wits University, students are required to write daily blog entries to show the progress of their projects. This year the theme is Yeoville and students have to take on a topic that tells a story that is Yeoville specific.

I spent the past week helping my teammates get footage for their projects.  Even though my project was complete, watching people scramble to do last minute work had me in panic mode.  I kept second guessing whether I had enough footage, or if my final draft was good enough.

It reached the point where Percy and Lutho had to tell me to calm down.  Tensions flared, we used abusive language.  Lutho referred to us as her “bitches”.    I was forced to watch her take pictures, I can understand having to help with sound for video, but watching someone take pictures is painful when you have your own deadlines to stress about (or in my case stressing about deadlines I already met, weird).

The sarcastic comments kept rolling and I think I may or may not have called a kid who ran into my equipment a “little shit”.  (Since becoming a journalist, my vocabulary now includes colourful newsroom profanity.  My parents would be disappointed).

TJ'ING:  Luca Kotton attempts to TJ, a signature move we learnt this year by our photo lecturer TJ Lemon; one puts oneself in an awkward position to get a great shot.  Photo:  Lameez Omarjee

TJ’ING: Luca Kotton attempts to TJ, a signature move we learnt this year by our photo lecturer TJ Lemon; one puts oneself in an awkward position to get a great shot. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Also, Luca took me to some dingy block of flats to meet one of his subjects. He told me he was scared to go alone.  I don’t know how my being there made a difference, I don’t know any karate moves.

I think my highlight was working with Percy’s subject, a designer from Nigeria.  He puts the “I” in Diva.  Lutho had to keep giving him pep talks, to build his confidence.  He’s a perfectionist so he didn’t want the footage we got to tarnish his “brand”. He kept withdrawing and we had to keep convincing him it’s a school project.  It really taught us to change our approach when working with different people.  The “people” business is not easy.  In fact, Percy has sworn off going to Yeoville ever again.

One of the interesting things we saw in Yeoville yesterday was a police raid on Rockey street.  People abandoned their shops.  Apparently police were checking for papers.

We also heard it was a drug bust, they were wearing those kitchen gloves, like something from CSI.   Luke from the Transitions team got a whole scoop because his topic is the transition of Rockey Street.  he also managed to take some dramatic pictures of people being slammed against walls.  As Murphy’s Law would have it, we obviously got there when the drama dissipated, so no action shots for us.

Later, as we were saying goodbye to one of Lutho’s subjects, he shared a few wise words.  Firstly, that I shouldn’t get tired of school and quit, and  if I have the opportunity to learn I should make the most of it.  He also told me to “relax more” when I work with people.  I guess I have a permanent frantic look on my face.  Numerous times people asked me if I was alright.  Lutho also commented that she heard that question posed to me, too frequently.  I guess my resting face is “PANIC”.

Coffee is to a journalist what heroine is to a junkie.

Not doing work stresses me out more than doing work  (I’m starting to think I’m a workaholic).  I actually took the day off on Wednesday, but really I still worked to feel better.  I finished my infographic and I’m pleased with it, I used some of the tips we got from our new and social media lecturer for our work on the “10 years Wits Vuvuzela infographic” .  I’m glad that the things we learnt this year  became useful in this in-depth project.

Despite my constant stressing, we had a great week together.  For the first time, all four of the Creations teammates hung out and helped each other, we sang karaoke during trips (yep, that’s about as much as we’ve done for teamwork).

Today, feeling a bit defeated in the newsroom, I used every opportunity to leave.  One was going to Father Coffee in Braamfontein with Roxanne, Luke and Rofhiwa (I don’t drink coffee, which is one of the reasons I’m a terrible journalist, but today I did, and I can now say “coffee is to a journalist what heroine is to a junkie”).

Later I helped Rofhiwa shoot at Constitution Hill, which was a first for me, I’ve never been there  (I’m also terrible at being South African).

I finally calmed down after consulting with my photography lecturer and video mentor.  My stills are good and my footage is approved.  It’s such a relief, now I can go forward with editing (there I go again, when I’m not working, I’m thinking about work).  It took me too long to realise that it’s better to consult and ask questions if I wasn’t sure about something.  It would’ve spared me a lot of worrying, which is practically part of my DNA.  Also, my feature mentor approved my final draft, so I don’t have to feel bad about enjoying my weekend.

The past four weeks in Yeoville have been an illuminating experience.  I know I’m in the right industry (I would die if I sat behind a desk for the rest of my life).  It was hard at first, and it called for courage a number of times.  I learnt a lot about people and how they think.   I also learnt that I’m capable of much more than I give myself credit.

I doubted my story a few times but something Lutho said about “just sticking to it and making the best of the situation”, was like a life bouy that got me through it.  She also said that she wanted to slap me a few times so that I could stop panicking and calm down, I’m glad she didn’t (although it probably would’ve helped).

The most valuable thing I learnt was to keep moving forward.  The immortal words of Finding Nemo’s Dory have never made more sense than they do now, “Just keep swimming” (I guess if you don’t, you drown).

For the final outcomee of the Wits Journalism In Depth 2014 project click here

For my article, click here

Yeoville Day 21: Came, Saw, Conquered

*As part of the in-depth research project, one of the requirements of the BA Honours in Journalism and Media Studies degree at Wits University, students are required to write daily blog entries to show the progress of their projects. This year the theme is Yeoville and students have to take on a topic that tells a story that is Yeoville specific.

I went to Cornerstone church, one last time.  I got a few more stills, even though I have a lot already, but I had the opportunity to go again and I wanted to make the most of the last day in Yeoville.  There was less pressure this time and I could talk to some congregates on a social level.  Even though I wasn’t intending to do more work, just soaking in the environment and taking mental notes was journalism.

Now I know Yeoville like the back of my hand. 

From this experience, I haven’t just written about “subjects”.  There are people in Yeoville, I met who I intend on visiting in the future, like Rookshana Visagie and Joe Muthee.  They’ve invited me to attend church there again, I may take them up on it.  What’s surprised me the most about Yeoville is the hospitality of the people.  They are so friendly and helpful!

END OF THE ROAD:  The final day of in-depth saw us doing the rounds one last time.  Photo:  Percy Matshoba

END OF THE ROAD: The final day of in-depth saw us doing the rounds one last time. Photo: Percy Matshoba

I wish I could say on the last day, something magnificent happened, but it was a bit anticlimactic.  No fireworks or epic encounters.  It wasn’t conclusive either, we went in, got our stories and moved out.  The people will continue with their lives, as if we weren’t even there.

On the way there, I took a taxi myself (that’s a big deal).  I was a little skeptical at first, being the only passenger in a taxi.  The driver dropped me off in Hillbrow and put me on another taxi to Yeoville.  Three weeks ago, the thought of doing that would’ve paralysed me with fear.  These internal victories are so valuable, now I know Yeoville like the back of my hand.

When a guy on Rockey Street yelled “Hey brown!” at me to get my attention, I didn’t curl into the fetal position as I expected.  I just turned around and yelled back “Uh-uh!”  (I didn’t know I had it in me).

Later I met up with Rofhiwa and Bongiwe who were shooting at the Catholic Church.  They were taking footage at a soup kitchen.  While we were there we spoke to a homeless medical doctor.

He has a sad story, he’s from Zimbabwe and he’s worked all over the world.  He kept telling us about story ideas in Yeoville.  He said we should be fearless and that we were capable of writing for Al Jazeera.  That was an enlightening experience, we have the means and the opportunities, there isn’t any reason for us to hold back.  We have nothing to lose.

We met Percy and Lutho at the Rockey street market, we were supposed to shoot Percy’s new subject.  But the lady never turned up.  Luckily Percy had a back-up designer so we went to her house on Dunbar street.  We will be shooting with her again tomorrow, bright and early at 8 am, Lutho and I aren’t keen.

As we walked the streets one last time, the sun draining any remaining moisture we had in our bodies, fatigue setting in, we hobbled onto a full taxi.

I hope my story does justice to the realities of Yeoville.

Yeoville Day 20: Hillbrow, almost

Photo: Lameez Omarjee

BUILT THIS CITY: Artist, Junior Sokhela says he has a house in the suburbs but loves “this place” overlooking the view of the city. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

*As part of the in-depth research project, one of the requirements of the BA Honours in Journalism and Media Studies degree at Wits University, students are required to write daily blog entries to show the progress of their projects. This year the theme is Yeoville and students have to take on a topic that tells a story that is Yeoville specific.

Today Lutho and I braved the inner city streets of Berea to shoot at Junior Sokhela’s studio.    She said she knew where he lived.  Trusting her, I followed her until she said: “Ah let’s wing it”.  I started to get worried.  As we were approaching Ponte Tower, that’s  when I felt like hitting her over the head with the tripod.  But I chose not to, because I wouldn’t have any idea how to get out of Hillbrow myself.

The good news is, we found our way to Sokhela’s place with the help of Lutho’s subject, BK, who we met at a central place.

It was incredible, amidst the economic frenzy of the city, there’s this other enchanting artistic side to it.  I’ve heard and read about it, but I’ve never had the opportunity to explore it.

YOU'RE GONNA BE A STAR:  Upcoming artist BK, had an opportunity to meet Junior Sokhela who's keen on working with him in the future.  Photo: Lameez Omarjee

YOU’RE GONNA BE A STAR: Upcoming artist BK, had an opportunity to meet Junior Sokhela who’s keen on working with him in the future. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Walking into Sokhela’s modest home, you’re greeted with a portrait of artist Bob Marley.  He has more of these hanging on the walls, black-and-white pictures of Malcom X and Boom Shaka.

The walls of his studio are adorned with the Boom Shaka records that reached gold and platinum status.  It was a privilege to meet Sokhela, he spent two weeks in studio with Hugh Masekela  and  he has worked with Brenda Fassie.

He told us she lived in the same building as he does now, and later moved to Ponte Tower.  He told us about their work on “nomakanjani” and I blurted out, “I love that song”! (Well, that’s one way to lose street cred).

Sokhela met BK, an artist trying to make a break.  Sokhela gave him some advice on the industry.  He told BK to find an identity and to add more kwaito to his music to make it memorable and recognisable as South African.  Having helped Lutho with her footage over the week, I noticed many of the artists incorporated Western influences in their music.

Sokhela was pleased to hear that BK sings and is good at RnB.  “I hate rappers,” he said.

Worried about our safety, and our equipment, Sokhela walked us back to catch a taxi.  For three solid minutes, I got a microscopic snapshot of Jo’burg city.  Walking the streets, past the vendors selling kasi snacks, the tasty smell of runaways being braaied on the street (I may be vegetarian but I know tasty food), it struck me that little girls were  playing hopscotch on the streets I fear daily.

I guess to survive Jo’burg, you become Jo’burg.  Dangerously addictive, limitless surprises.  I love this city.

 

 

 

Yeoville Day 19: Just fine

SEASONED:  Two days left in Yeoville, I've reached my limit.  Selfie: Lameez Omarjee

SEASONED: Two days left in Yeoville, I’ve reached my limit. Selfie: Lameez Omarjee

*As part of the in-depth research project, one of the requirements of the BA Honours in Journalism and Media Studies degree at Wits University, students are required to write daily blog entries to show the progress of their projects. This year the theme is Yeoville and students have to take on a topic that tells a story that is Yeoville specific.

I’m fine, not the Freaked-out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional fine.  But rather, the I-don’t-know-if I-still-have-a-pulse fine, but it doesn’t matter because EVERYTHING IS JUST FINE.

Started the day by working on my third draft, then went to Yeoville with Lutho to get her remaining footage.

On the taxi ride there we met a guy in the film industry.  He inquired about our equipment and where we were shooting.  It turns out, he was a Drama For Life student at Wits.  We spoke about journalism and how it was close to film.  Lutho wants to go into broadcast journalism, I’m still undecided.  Lugging camera equipment is not my most favorite thing in the world.  Although, hearing taxi commuters converse in French is quite therapeutic, that may be one of my new favorite things to do.

We ended up at Rasta House to meet Lutho’s subject, who was late.  People have no respect for time, it irks me especially because we have deadlines to meet.  In the meanwhile I started talking to this guy, who raps.  He asked me what I do besides school, that was insulting and sad, because outside school I have nothing going for me.

When I asked him what he does besides rapping, he enthusiastically told me that he’s a hustler.  (In some ways I’m a hustler too.  A hustler of information, but I’m trying to make my job seem way cooler than it is).  He specializes in weed.  And that was the day I met a dealer.  I think I’m ready to die now.

I’m a Christian before I’m a journalist.

I told him I was working on churches in Yeoville and we ended up having a conversation about religion.  He believes he’s god.  And he said that I am god too.  And our parents are mini-gods.  The basis of his claim is Genesis 1:27, “God created man in His own image”.  I tried to explain it didn’t mean we were god, but it was fruitless.  He started telling me about meditation and that we each have a third eye that needs to be unlocked.  I lied before, now I’m ready to die.  But first I’ll have to pray for him, and share the gospel, because I’m a Christian before I’m a journalist.

When Lutho’s subject eventually arrived, we had to find a studio to film him.  We tried the one on Rockey street but it was unavailable.  So we have to go back to Yeoville tomorrow, and we’ll have three studios available to choose from.   That’s how life works … when you need one studio, none will be available.

Lutho and I reached our limit.  At one point when we were walking to catch a taxi, we just couldn’t move anymore.  “I’m exhausted Lameez,” the poor thing had to change her plans.  She thought she’d be done shooting today.  Things could be worse, we still have two days to put things together.

As much as in-depth has made me reconsider my career choice in journalism, I’m certain it’s made me more determined to be one.  Seriously, how many  people can say they met a dealer and didn’t buy anything?