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From: InfoSec News <alerts () infosecnews org>
Date: Fri, 6 Dec 2013 06:09:00 +0000 (UTC)
By Jonathan Kaiman
DECEMBER 4, 2013
DHARAMSALA, India -- Lobsang Gyatso Sither sits at the front of a Tibetan
school auditorium, the bright rectangle of his PowerPoint presentation
dimly illuminating the first few rows of students before him. "Never open
attachments unless you are expecting them," Sither says. The students nod.
A portrait of the Dalai Lama hangs above the stage, framed by flickering
electronic candles; a stray dog ambles behind the crowd. "Never give
anyone else your passwords," Sither says, clicking to a new slide, which
explains the dangers of using an unfamiliar thumb drive. "The Chinese
government or others could take control of your computer."
Welcome to Dharamsala, population 20,000 and one of the most hacked places
in the world. This small city in India's lush Himalayan foothills is home
to the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader; the Central
Tibetan Administration, or CTA (formerly called the Tibetan government in
exile); and a host of Tibetan media outlets and nongovernmental
organizations, some of which the Chinese government classifies as
terrorist groups. The Dalai Lama fled here in 1959 after communist troops
violently suppressed an uprising in Lhasa, now the capital of western
China's Tibetan Autonomous Region. India embraced the Dalai Lama as a
token of religious diversity, and tens of thousands of refugees followed
suit. About 130,000 Tibetans live in exile, according to a 2009 census;
Dharamsala is the closest thing they have to a political capital.
The city has an ancient feel. Homes cling to precipitous mountain roads
that weave through dense cedar forests; macaque monkeys prance among the
rooftops. Yet it is changing, moving cautiously into the future. Computers
have become ubiquitous. Roadside cafes offer double espressos and wireless
Internet (common passwords include "FreeTibet" and "Independence"). Young
Tibetans are snapping up iPhones, which, unlike competing devices, offer
the option of a Tibetan-language keyboard.
Communication between the city's Tibetan community and Tibet itself is
easier than it has ever been. Yet the risk of dialing home has never been
greater. "If we don't use secure lines of communication, Tibetans in Tibet
could be prosecuted" for sending sensitive information abroad, says
Sither, a field coordinator for the Tibet Action Institute, a New
York-based nonprofit that sponsors education initiatives and trains
activists on secure communications systems.
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- Hack Tibet InfoSec News (Dec 06)