Security Made Easy

What we're about

Digital security used to be for banks. Physical security used to be for bodyguards. Not any more. We carry everything with us--our work, our finances, our most private communications, right in our pockets. We all know we should be more careful. But technology makes life convenient, and security can feel like it's slowing us down. We founded Security First because we get that. We also know you want to protect yourself and your team, wherever you're going. So we're making it easy, designing tools and training with your needs in mind. We're passionate about what we do. Let us help you put security first.

Our principles



Security First uses advanced, open-source encryption to communicate and to secure our tools. We don’t take your data or track you, so we can’t expose you. We will never add a backdoor. Ever.



We publish our source code and content for anyone to check. Please compile it, review it, test it, break it, hack it, and tell us what you think here. If you find a security critical issue, check out our responsible disclosure policy.



Anyone can contribute code or content, and reuse it for free. We adhere to the Content as Code standard to promote collaboration.



Security is complex. It has to be. So we're finding innovative ways to help you manage it. We're committed to making it easier for you to stay secure.



Security is for everyone. Period. We want you to use what we know, wherever you are, so we're committed to developing an effective translation process. And we'll always direct you to free, open source solutions when we can.


We aim to publish all our information for free. We are grateful to the grant-making organizations that have made this possible. Umbrella was launched with the generous support of the Open Technology Fund.

We also offer paid services, for when you need training and documentation customized for your team. Learn more about our training and services, or request a quote for a white label version of our signature security app, Umbrella.

Our team

Rory Byrne

Co-founder and Executive Director

Rory co-founded Security First in 2013 to develop technology and training that makes security easy for everyone. He has overseen the development and launch of Umbrella, a free, open source Android app containing up-to-date digital and physical security resources for use in hostile environments, and Tent, a content management system for other organisations to publish their own version of Umbrella. He leads Security First trainings with organisations and activists operating in high-risk areas around the world.

Rory’s experience includes work in Westminster and with the military. He has spent the past decade working to share his expertise in risk analysis and mitigation with the people who need it most. In 2008 he helped establish Videre, a UK-based charity that equips and trains activists to gather, verify and distribute covert camera footage documenting human rights abuses. He served as Videre's Head of Security and Research for five years, training hundreds of human rights defenders across Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe in areas as varied as encryption, counter-surveillance, covert filming, risk management and secure communications. The thirty-five module training program he developed was cited by USAID as the industry-leading standard. He is also a Certified Ethical Hacker.

Holly Kilroy


Holly co-founded Security First in 2013 and is currently the co-founder of the Centre for Digital Resilience. She has spent her career building projects that leverage technology and civil society coordination to address issues of human rights and conflict. She previously worked as the Emerging Powers Coordinator at Crisis Action where she launched and led the emerging powers program, providing direction for both organizational growth and campaign traction across the BRICS. Prior to this she helped set up Videre, where she spent four years as Head of Development, framing the need for safer, more effective video documentation and helping to launch projects around the world. Holly has also served as the International Officer for Irish Labour Youth and worked in communications for civil society organizations in Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and the UK.

Rok Biderman

Lead Developer

Rok has built the first versions of Security First Umbrella Android client and the previous iterations of the API and is now helping with provisioning and architectural decisions in all areas of development. He is a back end developer with significant experience. Originally from Slovenia but now living abroad for years, he's worked as a backend developer at London's Taskhub, Spanish unicorn Cabify and as a CTO for YC S15 alumni Her. He likes building high performance API-first infrastructure that scales well and is mindful of RESTful principles which seem to work well in practice.

Vesna Planko

Lead UX/UI Designer

Vesna designs visuals and experiences for Security first since December 2013. Currently, she is working on Vidsey a procedural video generation tool, and she is a CEO of Habitual., a user experience agency specialized for banking and finance apps. Before she was Lead UX/UI at Moni Technologies, solving usability challenges in the remittance market. Previously, she was design and technical lead at Dattch (now Her), which won the best design award at the 2014 @Launch Festival in San Francisco and was YCombinator S15 batch. She has 10+ years of experience, both agency- and client-side. Using a user-centered design approach, she is building great UX architectures and matching visuals. She is based in San Francisco, US.

Madeline Earp

Content Manager

Madeline has managed content for Security First since January 2018. She previously worked at New York-based NGOs Freedom House (2013-2017) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (2007-2013), where she researched threats and rights violations against journalists and digital freedom activists across Asia. She has studied Chinese in China and Taiwan and has an MA in East Asian studies from Harvard. Ask her about digital security tool guides, content as code, Markdown, Transifex, or the difference between traditional and simplified Chinese. She is based in Bristol, UK.

Douglas Mesquita

Android Developer

Douglas started to develop Umbrella for Security First in December 2017. He is a mobile developer with over seven years of experience who contributed to the first Brazilian Android community in 2010. He was a volunteer for a social project responsible for bringing technological knowledge to the Brazilian black community in Recife. Originally from Recife, Brazil, he’s worked as a backend/ mobile developer in several companies such as Samsung R&D, Federal University of Pernambuco (Cin), MapLink, Foca Consulting, etc. Currently, he is based in Dublin, Ireland.

Alex D. Guerrieri

Backend Developer

Alex is responsible for Tent and joined in November 2016. He is a software engineer focused on backend development and huge fan of Go. Originally from Italy, he now lives in Spain where he worked in two different startups: source{d} and Cabify. He's started working with Security First in late 2016 and he's the creator of Tent, the Content Management System used by Umbrella.

Lucas Correa

iOS Developer

Lucas has more than 13 years of experience in development, with more than 8 years as an iOS developer, creating applications for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. He has knowledge in Java (J2SE, J2EE, Swing and Android), Objective-C, Swift and Ruby (Ruby on Rails), and runs some open source projects on GitHub. Since he started his career in 2005, he has worked in several companies in different fields like call centres and payment services, and also as freelancer. Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, he has lived in Dublin since 2017.

Friends from the past now working on new things:

  • Mitesh Patel - improved things
  • Adam Schakaki - fixed things