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Global Frontline Workers: Stay Safe with Umbrella App

Free Mobile Security Hub Now Available on iOS in Multiple Languages

(London, April 30, 2019) — Journalists, activists, and humanitarians around the world who work or live in dangerous areas can now keep safe on the go thanks to Umbrella. In a world that puts frontline workers ever more at risk, the free, open-source app now gives everyone access to high-standard physical and digital security information and tools. Umbrella is available to download on all platforms, including iOS and Android, Security First said today.

The past few years have been record setting for those working in difficult areas. The trend is clear for aid workers: close to 300 have been affected by serious violence every year over the past decade. With the rise of populist politics around the world, a record number of human rights defenders - 321 in 27 countries - were killed in 2018 alone. The past three years have seen the serious curbing of free press with the highest recorded number of imprisoned journalists, and 60 of them already missing this year.

Umbrella includes advice on how to stay safe, from sending a secure email to dealing with a kidnap, along with checklists that help you actually follow it. Security alerts from trusted sources can inform you as circumstances change, and you can even securely notify your team as you check off a task or update your plans.

“We all depend on the brave work of journalists, activists, and humanitarians around the world now more than ever; but with threats and attacks on the rise, it is also that much more dangerous for them to operate,” said Rory Byrne, co-founder and executive director of Security First. “Too many face unnecessary consequences because they didn’t have the resources to get proper security training. Umbrella is an all-in-one tool that gives anyone, anywhere, the opportunity to work safely.”

They particularly focused on gender-related issues and fighting language barriers. The app’s in-house security trainers, designers, and developers created a hub to help individuals and teams at risk manage their security effectively, and respond in a worst case scenario. With Umbrella, you can:

  • Learn - Umbrella includes access to information on digital and physical security, as well as your psychological well-being, in English, Spanish, Arabic, Farsi and Chinese (Traditional).
  • Prepare - Umbrella includes features like checklists to help you work through the steps that you need to take before you go somewhere dangerous. It also helps you communicate with people around you: you can send them a checklist, you can send them a form to exchange information and stay up-to-date.
  • Inform - Umbrella pulls in security alerts from trusted sources. It pulls in RSS feeds for local news and information that might inform your security decisions.
  • Respond - Umbrella is the first security resource that is designed to be used on the go. Checklists help react when you are dealing with a security situation, and you can share incident response forms with your team.

“Technology has changed and intensified the threats facing journalists, human rights defenders, and humanitarians” Byrne said. “But we want to reverse that. Umbrella uses technology to help teams prepare and respond to those threats.”


For more information, multimedia, and to arrange interviews, please contact:
In Paris, Juliette Delay: or +33-6-45-33-94-89 (mobile) or +1-646-477-4170 (Whatsapp/Signal)

Media Appearances

Umbrella is mentioned occasionally in the press. This list is not comprehensive, but illustrates some of the significant articles that have been published about Umbrella.



Perspectives on Umbrella from around the world (video available):

“In most of these emergency situations people still have their smartphones in their pockets, so they can grab [it], switch it on, and read something from the screen. This could save them very important minutes that could [determine] the whole situation.”

- Sergei, security trainer from Russia, where activists face targeted threats, unfair trials and detention.

“Some [journalists] live in environments where they need constantly to hide, and cross the borders, and cover up their physical traces. And in those cases it’s super difficult for them to follow some instructions, or to build strategies. [...] Resources like Umbrella can help to build those strategies, and can help as a reference. [...] I recommend Umbrella.”

- Carlos, a Latin American exilee from Venezuela, a country rocked by a major political crisis where journalists are systematically targeted by the government and face disappearances, physical aggression, kidnappings, killings, and a number of severe digital threats.

““I would recommend Umbrella to everyone I know, I would preach the gospel of Umbrella, because first and foremost it makes my work as a digital safety trainer very easy. It’s a one-on-one security check up for everyone, and most importantly the language they use is very simple [and] easily understandable.”

- Cecilia, a broadcast journalist and digital security trainer from Kenya, where women speaking up are particularly vulnerable online.

“It’s important for people to have this app on their phones. In Zimbabwe, we’ve got a 90% mobile penetration rate: most people, if not the whole population, has a mobile device. And [that is how] they access their internet. So having such an app on their phone it means that they’ll have a security guide always in their pocket. I think this app will help journalists keep safe and do their job.”

- Sean, a journalist and security expert from Zimbabwe, who faces frequent intimidation tactics, including when his offices were recently raided by the government.

“Umbrella distinguishes itself by being a simple and versatile tool for one of the most delicate tasks journalists have: to keep their safety. The app includes a great variety of scenarios and situations that accompany users in planning their coverage and allow them to imagine it even before beginning. But the most important thing is that it alerts users to the risks they can face. Umbrella is an essential tool to raise awareness of our safety.”

- Javier, journalist and safety trainer in Mexico, where journalists have been targeted online by sophisticated government level hacking tools and offline by narco groups attempting to suppress their work.

About Security First

Security First was established in 2013 with the aim of making it easier for human rights defenders to work safely. As well as building Umbrella they provide security training to groups ranging from the largest human rights, media and aid NGOs in the world to individual LGBT activists on the ground. For more information, please visit:

Get Umbrella.