Chance favors the prepared – and also those who take the necessary steps to prevent breaches and cyber attacks to your newsroom’s infrastructure. As a newsroom leader, you may or may not be aware of the breadth and depth of your media outlet’s accounts – from social media and email to third-party devices sitting in old desk drawers.
Bad actors will stop at nothing to try to circumvent your existing security and compromise your newsroom, so here are some suggestions as far as maintaining control, both internally and externally. And while these measures may not ultimately stop an attack – don’t leave it up to chance – it’s better to be proactive than reactive.
Guides & Best Practices
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Seven Steps To Digital Security
This EFF guide first notes the importance of asking yourself what you want to protect. Is it a repository of sensitive information? Communication with a reporter’s anonymous source? Then, make sure your bases are covered. For example, an unencrypted file on a personal laptop that ends up stolen won’t safeguard the encrypted emails on a work computer, both become compromised in this scenario. Also know that there is no perfect security plan and that it’s OK to trust someone that has access to at least some of your information, but knowing who to trust is key as well.
Freedom of the Press Foundation
Online account security
If you’re not sure where to start in terms of securing accounts, these entry-level training sessions from Freedom of the Press Foundation address everything from email phishing to password managers. There are also beginner guides on two-factor authentication, choosing the right type of password and the efficacy of a passkey.
Global Cyber Alliance
The GCA Cybersecurity Toolkit for Journalists
GCA’s toolkit has a host of resources and product recommendations for protecting your newsroom from cybersecurity attacks. First, GCA recommends taking an inventory of your existing accounts, then it’s important to actually *update* those accounts, especially if you ignore or neglect the auto-update notifications on your devices. It’s also important to backup your existing data, especially in the event of a power surge or stolen information, and even consider private web browsing as well.
Committee to Protect Journalists
Digital security: Risk assessment template
CPJ offers a two-part, risk assessment template for journalists to gauge their level of digital risk. This includes risk linked to publishing a particular story, the ability to be targeted digitally – including by those who are the subject of the reporting – and speaking to others about privacy concerns.
Freedom of the Press Foundation. This foundation works to defend and support journalism in the digital age. They provide tools, resources, and training for independent journalists and news organizations looking to enhance their digital security and protect their online presence and assets.
Reporters Without Borders. Aside from having a digital help desk dedicated toward digital security for journalists, this international non-profit group also has a digital security newsletter and a team able to field questions via email.
Totem. An online learning platform, this digital security training is meant for both journalists and activists. Courses include field research, knowing your trolls and securing your devices. Totem is also able to organize workshops for your newsroom to develop best practices for digital security in a particular context.
AccessNow. This international NGO focuses on promoting digital rights and freedoms worldwide. Its helpline offers support 24/7 to media organizations, journalists, activists, and human rights defenders experiencing online attacks.
Nothing 2 Hide. This nonprofit provides emergency digital assistance to journalists, activists, and civil society organizations through its digital security helpline. The organization also offers digital security training.
Pew Research Center
Investigative Journalists and Digital Security by Jesse Holcomb and Amy Mitchell
The Journalist’s Resource
Digital security tips for journalists: Protecting sources and yourself by David Trilling
Information Security Essentials: A Guide for Reporters, Editors, and Newsroom Leaders by Susan E. McGregor
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
Five digital security tools to protect your work and sources by Spencer Woodman
University of California, Berkeley
An Evaluation of Online Security Guides for Journalists by Kristin Berdan
International Journalists’ Network
Digital security do’s and don’ts for journalists by Katya Podkovyroff Lewis