Accessible Online Security | an Open Leaders X program

By Abigail Cabunoc Mayes | Dec. 18, 2019 | Open Leadership & Events

Accessible Online Security

Brian Obilo (@brian_obilo) and Maurine Chepkoech (@Basoimauryne) joined forces to work on an open leadership program for digital safety in Kenya. Over the past few months, Brian and Maurine have been working to launch Open Leaders: Accessible Online Security during Open Leaders X.

I interviewed Brian and Maurine to learn more about Open Leaders: Accessible Online Security and how you can contribute to the work.

Open Leaders X

What is Open Leaders: Accessible Online Security?

The Accessible Online Security program is a training and mentorship program aimed at equipping knowledge and practical experience on digital privacy to people in our community. With the increased migration of operations online (eg. business, education, social media engagement, etc), there is a need to ensure people keep their digital data safe. This program aims at raising awareness and next generation of digital safety activists. Over a period of 14 weeks, starting from February 2020, this program will focus on four key main areas as our pillars:

  • Information Security
  • Secure Online Communication
  • Privacy Laws and Regulation
  • Web Literacy

Our participants will also be guided to understand “Open by Design” as they work on open source projects that foster inclusion and promote Internet Health.They will receive guidance and mentorship from the experts and coaches as well as resources to help them learn and practice digital safety.

Why did you start Open Leaders: Accessible Online Security?

Both of us are alumni of e.KRAAL Innovation Hub’s Cybersecurity Program which focuses on raising the next generation of capable cybersecurity professionals. We received one-on-one mentorship and world class training on various cybersecurity concepts and are therefore equipped with the necessary skills to make real world impact. Having seen and experienced first-hand the positive impact of great mentorship and elite training, running the Accessible Online Security Program is our way of paying it forward.

Maurine and Brian Maurine and Brian during e.KRAAL’s Cybersecurity Program graduation in May, 2019.

Furthermore, Kenyans were ranked the most care-free users of the Internet globally. Only four in every 10 internet users in Kenya are concerned about their privacy online, according to a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development released on September 2019. This is the lowest level in the world according to the report and ranks poorly against the global average of eight in every 10 users.

In addition, Kenya spends up to 295M USD in responding to cybercrime cases yearly. Among the top ranking types of cybercrime include social engineering and identity theft, email spam and phishing, and online fraud scams. Despite having one of the highest internet usage rates in the continent, there is a distinct skill gap on digital safety. This leads to ignorance on ways to ensure user data security and privacy and makes it easy for adversaries to compromise peoples’ accounts and personal devices. Cases of data breaches are preventable by equipping people with the necessary skills to understand why their data is vital and therefore should be safeguarded. Cases of hacking and data breaches not only instills fear of the internet but also bars people from reaping the benefits the internet has to offer.

Through this program, we will also accomplish our mission of offering training and mentorship on accessible online security and nurturing new voices of digital safety who will then become peer mentors and help in reaching out to more people and subsequently offering training on digital safety.

How does your program connect participants to the internet health movement?

In the context of the Internet Health Movement, the key issues we will be focusing on are Privacy & Security and Openness. We will create a free and inclusive space that will allow our participants to: learn best practices, learn from one another and eventually collaborate on open source projects for real world impact.

Our participants will not only understand “Open by Design”, but they will be given a crash course on how to design and build projects that empower others to collaborate in inclusive communities.

Afterwards, they will be introduced to different Information Security and Tech Policy concepts by mentors/coaches from Kenya's Information Security field. Our participants will learn more about (not limited to):

  • Information Security: primer on Information Security and how it impacts their lives.
  • Secure Online Communications: How to improve the security of online communications by using VPNs, end to end encryption (mails and messaging apps) and strong and different passwords.
  • Information Privacy and Data Protection Laws such as the GDPR.
  • Internet & Data Governance and how they can get involved in shaping Internet Policy regulations.
  • Web Literacy

What did you learn by bringing your program to MozFest 2019? How are you continuing the momentum after the festival?

The collaboration, friendships, networking and sharing of ideas at Mozfest 2019 gave invaluable input to how we can run our program to ensure maximum participation and achievement of the set objectives. Additionally, design of sessions to cater for all attendees so that people get involved and engaged was a key lesson to bring along to our program in 2020.

How can others get involved in your program?

A:There are various ways in which other people can get involved in our program:

  1. Signing up as mentees to our program: This way participants get to learn about digital safety and accompanying aspects as well as share their experience and expertise with their peers.
    1. Application link: http://bit.ly/2RX5Zs8
    2. Application Deadline: 20/01/2020
  2. Mentors, coaches and experts: We are looking for people who are willing and equipped to guide their mentees through their projects and in understanding digital safety and privacy. This group may also run sessions and can as well learn new concepts and reinforce what they already know.
  3. Contributors: In terms of content resources on digital safety, materially to fund the project and expertise.

Everyone interested is welcome to express their interest by sending an email to maurineeng@gmail.com

What meme or gif best represents your program?

When you know your digital data is safe and private


The Open Leadership and Events team supports a series of programs and events designed to build and protect a healthy internet— and our best online lives. These programs and events are co-created by a group of dynamic, vibrant and varied community collaborators— from developers and designers to educators and students to artists and activists. Sign up for our newsletter.


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