New APC member “Encryption is your friend”

By Karel Novotný Publisher: APCNews     Praga,

Just last month, the APC network was joined by a new organisation, Based in Montreal, the six-person team develops free/libre and open source software that focuses on privacy, online security and information management. Our network coordinator, Karel Novotný interviewed’s founder and director Dmitri Vitaliev about their expertise in security and interest in partnering with other APC members.

Karel Novotný: Why does focus on capacity building in online security for organisations?

Dmitri Vitaliev: Building capacity and self-reliance is especially important when it comes to digital security. I’ve learned that every situation is different and users and organisations must be able to make informed decisions about everything from smartphone “apps” to website hosts. This is why we dedicate a lot of effort to publishing self-learning guides and doing frontline training. [Free/libre and] open source software development is another enabler of self-reliance by encouraging community participation and contribution.

KN: How is’s work different from other software development groups?

DV: We do more than software development. Our niche is high-tech solutions for network security, cryptography and machine learning. This requires us to have a healthy blend of paranoia, academia and computer science. Plus we have over a decade of experience working with high-risk individuals and organisations. We also put a lot of effort into educating users, creating and auditing security policies and waxing lyrical on issues that we care about.

KN: What are areas of work that overlap among, APC and APC members? What do you expect to achieve by being part of APC?

DV: Service provision and capacity building such as trainings, technical guides and educational material are all areas of work that we share with APC. We want to collaborate with APC member organisations on implementing software and network security services, borrowing on the wide range of experience and knowledge from participating members. We also look forward to APC’s guidance and positioning on internet policy initiatives.

Ultimately we want to benefit from a mutual exchange of experience and expertise with network members. Being part of the APC network will afford our projects greater reach and impact. Working with like-minded organisations and individuals is good for morale!

KN: What are your most exciting projects at the moment?

DV: We’re releasing a secure, multi-party communication protocol called (n+1)^sec. It aims to replace the OTR protocol for group chat, introducing security features to deal with modern day adversaries and will initially be implemented into the Cryptocat messaging platform.

We are also introducing a volunteer-run network into the existing Deflect infrastructure. Basically anyone can now become a Deflect server, helping to protect freedom of expression on the internet. It’s a community solution to a global problem. We’re calling it Distributed Deflect.

KN: What are you doing at the campaign level to make sure human rights defenders and activists are less vulnerable?

DV: We think agreeing on a set of principles for internet service providers is pretty important. We’re currently running a campaign on this issue.

We also fight apathy, technophobia and hopelessness in digital security trainings and in our interactions with human rights defenders and activists. We try to send the message “Encryption is your friend!”

KN: How can APC members get involved in your work?

DV: We are a small organisation and survive on your interest and partnerships. We appreciate technical review of our code, editorial review of our publications and could definitely use help with translation and software localisation. Reach out to us on Github, email and Twitter.

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