10 Tips For Journalists To Ensure Data Privacy

With the unstoppable march of hacking, data protection is of vital importance to media personal because it’s more of a political problem nowadays.


Top 10 Effective Tips For Journalists To Ensure Data Privacy

Journalists are the official watchdogs for both industry and government. Protecting the data they transmit to their readers assumes the most vital significance. The Fourth Estate, therefore, needs to keep all their sensitive and confidential data protected in the following ten most effective ways:

1. Use A VPN

Data encryption has become essential for journalist around the world. There is no better way to encrypt all of your Internet traffic than using a virtual private network. A VPN also allows users to hide their real IP address. This process grants journalists anonymity online.

It’s no surprise then that China, Russia, and the likes have become actively blocking VPNs. Luckily, using VPN is still perfectly legal in most countries around the world. As a journalist who takes her/his privacy seriously, you simply need to be using a VPN whenever you go online.

2. Use Tor

The Onion Browser protects data and is fast galloping up the popularity charts. Tor effectively conceals any activity information and comes optimized for web traffic by bouncing a browsing session through multiple nodes.

Tor is able to spoof your online identity by distributing your traffic among different Tor servers. Additionally, Tor encrypts your traffic. These two processes ensure that it becomes nigh impossible to trace your browsing activity.

Tor is available on Windows PC, Mac, and Android.

3. Using Signal also helps:

Signal is a free messaging app that offers end-to-end encryption for text messages, video calls, and voice calls.

It is ideal for non-technical writers who wish to encrypt everything they transmit. Signal is compatible with both Android and iOS. 

4. Avoid using PGP

PGP and S/MIME encryptions, both of which are supposed to secure email content, are full of vunrabilities.

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has provided detailed guides on how to disable PGP in Thunderbird with EnigmailApple Mail with GPGTools, and Outlook with Gpg4win

5. Refrain from Emailing All Together

Many consider emails an almost obsolete concept for protecting sensitive information. There’s always the possibility of hackers gaining access to your email account. It’s best for reporters to avoid transmitting sensitive data through emails.

If necessary, try using temporary anonymous emails instead.

6. Avoid Websites with HTTP

Websites that use HTTP protocol instead of HTTPs can leave you completely exposed.

Websites with an HTTPS certificate are indicated with a padlock icon in the browser location bar. These sites have a secure encryption, which offers another layer of security to the standard HTTP. Here, the data between the server and your browser is encrypted and protected from any attacks. The content of your established connection is invisible to hackers trying to intercept it.

7. Install Antivirus Software

In case your laptop or computer is infected with malware or a trojan, it will become extremely easy for hackers to track everything you do online. They can even gain access to your cam and microphone. This makes it possible to record your conversations without your knowledge.

Always make sure to install an antivirus program on your device. While not completely bulletproof, antivirus goes a long way in protecting you from most of the malicious viruses that have infested the web today.

8. Take Extra Security Measures

In other words, start thinking like an attacker. Once you’re aware of the possibilities that a hacker might have compromised your smartphone, replace it. 

Install a prevention and protective software like Qubes to stop your laptop from getting hacked.  Tails OS, on the other hand, is a perfect choice for journalists looking for more privacy.

10. Protect memory & storage

Flash drives, hard drives, cell phone storage, and memory chips are usually easy targets for unwanted searches. So be extra careful about storing sensitive documents and password-protect and fully encrypt all devices and storage you have.

Also, keep your devices clean of any sensitive information when crossing international borders because they are usually subject to scrutiny at these points.


With oppressive censorship gaining ground in certain countries like China and Saudi Arabia for instance, journalists working there are perpetually exposed to even life-threatening risks when writing and transmitting stories.

Threatening journalists succeeds more online as virtual publishing is much cheaper than print journalism. Attacks of the signal-to-noise ratio nature easily choke the truth. This is exactly what makes protecting sensitive data all the more essential to protect the truth and to transmit it to the reader.   

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