Tibetan techie recognised for excellence in making change

Lobsang Sither in a file photo taken on 2 October 2020.

Lobsang Sither in a file photo taken on 2 October 2020. Courtesy of Lobsang Sither

Tibet Sun Newsroom

McLEOD GANJ, India, 6 December 2020

Tibetan cybersecurity expert Lobsang Sither has been recognised as one of the ‘Changemakers of Tomorrow’ for working to build a brighter future, by UK-based Wired Magazine.

Sither is among 32 people shortlisted for this year’s honour, nominated by some well-known personalities spanning scientists, technologists, founders, and activists, to name a person whose work they think deserves greater recognition.

“I was pleasantly surprised. I felt honoured to be on the WIRED smart list. This helps highlight the issue of Tibet and the work that Tibet Action Institute does to bring digital security solutions to the Tibetan community,” Sither commented on receiving the recognition.

Personalities like Sunder Pichai, Alphabet CEO; Sarah Gilbert from Oxford Covid-19 vaccine research; and Joshua Wong, Hong Kong pro-democracy activist entered nominations for the “Changemakers of Tomorrow”.

Ron Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, nominated Lobsang Sither, who is the digital security programme director at the Tibet Action Institute.

With a software engineering background from London Metropolitan University, UK, Sither has been a researcher on cybersecurity issues facing the Tibetan Community for over a decade.

Chinese hacking of exile Tibetans have been reported for many years, with a cyberespionage campaign using malware and Trojans aimed at causing damage and disruption, and stealing information.

Over a few hundred thousand trolls known as the 50-Cent Army are another part of state-sponsored machinery at work to disrupt events that are deemed unfavourable for China, and to promote Chinese propaganda.

As one of the key people behind the Tibet Action Institute, Sither has had to fend off a constant barrage of targeted espionage attacks from China against the entire Tibetan diaspora, and especially the Tibetan community in Dharamshala, India, where he lives.

“Tibetans have been targeted both inside Tibet and in the diaspora by constant cyber espionage, and I believe that our work at Tibet Action Institute is able to bring out solutions which are able to combat some of the threats,” Sither said.

Along with his colleagues, Sither has pioneered one of the first civil society computer emergency response teams, called TibCERT, to share threat intelligence information among NGOs, researchers, and activists in the Tibetan community.

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet nominated Ibrahim Ouassari, co-founder of Molengeek, with a mission to make technology and entrepreneurship accessible to everyone. Ibrahim is a self-taught entrepreneur who is helping others to use technology to transform their communities in Brussels, Padua, and Amsterdam.

Joshua Wong, the well-known Hong Kong pro-democracy activist, chose Parit Chiwarak, a Thai student activist.

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