Introducing: Martus Uploader for Secure Data Backup

By Rachel Bernstein, posted on

For the activists, lawyers and journalists defending human rights, information is their most powerful tool in seeking justice. The evidence they gather can be used to raise awareness, advocate for protection, and pursue cases in courts, tribunals or international mechanisms. Human rights defenders work under increasingly insecure conditions. They often face detention, office raids, and seizure of their equipment.

Martus, Benetech’s secure information management system, is designed for and with those who collect information for advocacy in dangerous contexts. Martus strengthens human rights work by providing tools to secure and organize information. Martus users are able to encrypt their data at rest and in transit as well as backup to a global network of servers. Backup is an important feature that allows users to maintain access to their data should their device be confiscated or destroyed.

Martus Uploader home page with user instructions

For those with an internet connection, automatic backup is already built into Martus.  However, many current and potential Martus users do not have reliable, secure access to the internet. Benetech’s newest release – Martus 6.1 – includes Beta support for an exciting feature that alleviates this problem: The Uploader.

Uploader Provides Secure Backup Options Without Internet

The Uploader is a website that allows Martus users to back up their data to the server network without having to download the software application. Users simply export their Martus files to a compressed folder, take the files to any computer with an internet connection, and upload them to the servers through the website.

This feature gives users the option to back up their data from an internet café or other public, potentially compromised connection. Such an option is important for those collecting human rights information far from their base of operations, particularly if they will pass through checkpoints or border crossings.

Another benefit of this feature is that the user can give the files to a friend or colleague to upload. Since the Uploader-ready files have been encrypted before export from Martus and no login information is necessary on the Uploader website, users can ask a colleague to complete the backup without revealing sensitive information. This is a significant benefit for high-profile activists or journalists who are more likely to be targeted en route to a location with an internet connection.

The Uploader is also helpful to those who would otherwise need to travel to a connection point with a laptop on which Martus is installed. A flash drive carrying the compressed files exposes the user to less risk of theft or seizure. In addition, if the device storing the files for backup does not contain the Martus client, the user cannot be compelled to open the records.

In the future, we hope to add additional security measures to the Uploader including encrypting the confirmation of receipt from the servers. We also hope to make updates to our mobile tools to allow for record backup via the Uploader.

Calling All Beta Testers

The Uploader can be tested by any Martus user. However, since it is currently in Beta, we strongly encourage users who cannot synch to the servers regularly to also maintain a secondary backup method.

We invite you to download the Martus 6.1 Uploader and further explore the Martus Project website, including our updated documentation pages. We welcome your feedback. Contact us at martus@benetech.org or connect with us @MartusProject.

Want to read more about Benetech’s work developing secure software to document human rights abuses? Here are two more articles: