Democratic organizations of all stripes are facing increasingly complex cyber threats. And while global awareness of cybersecurity is increasing, there’s still a lot of work to do. While some democratic actors are taking steps to protect themselves, most tend to be reactive. Many don’t see themselves as possible cyber targets until it’s too late.
NDI works in over fifty countries in partnership with democratic organizations on a range of issues in the rights, democracy and governance space. Nearly all these groups need simple, easy-to-navigate resources on organizational cybersecurity, written in a language familiar to them. While there are lots of amazing resources out there tailored to the cybersecurity needs of individuals, we’ve found that a gap exists in helping institutions and organizations address these threats more holistically.
With funding from Microsoft’s Democracy Forward Initiative, we have developed a series of materials geared towards helping political parties and campaigns enhance their organizational security. This includes our Political Party CyberSim - a unique experiential learning game inspired by a similar exercise from Harvard’s Belfer Center. CyberSim builds organizational cybersecurity capacity through simulated “real world” incidents.
Gamifying cybersecurity helps parties understand the stakes before a breached account or defaced website impacts an election or critical campaign period.
While the digital security community has produced a number of amazing resources tailored to at-risk individuals, as well as comprehensive technical frameworks and methodologies for assessing and auditing organizations, we found that NDI’s partners needed a one-stop guide to help organizations simultaneously understand important technical concepts and construct a comprehensive organizational security plan. Another upcoming resource seeks to address that gap: our series of three Cybersecurity Handbooks. We’re excited to soon share each Handbook, each tailored for political parties, civil society organizations, and parliaments respectively, both as interactive websites and in an online course format (ready for use now for civil society orgs and political parties). Stay tuned to our Twitter feed to see when the full suite of interactive Handbooks go live!
In creating the Cybersecurity Handbooks, we’ve consulted with many of our peers and colleagues in the digital security space to identify key resources for each topic area, as well as existing gaps not covered in other guides. The final products compile and adapt existing resources and combine them with fresh new content in order to provide organizations with the building blocks to develop their own basic digital security plans. During development, the Handbooks were reviewed by local digital security trainers, technical experts, and specialists working at the intersections of gender, inclusion, and security. We’re excited to share them with you soon!