The Internet has helped journalists, giving them a world-spanning platform to spill their research and writing onto. No journalist would trade this for the world. However, there is one major issue the Internet brings: a lack of privacy.
Cybersecurity is a lifestyle—a lifestyle that journalists all over the world should adopt. Many parts of the world aren’t exactly accepting of journalists and the news they bring, especially if the news can be construed as negative.
But what risks do they face, exactly?
Risks Facing Journalists
In this section, we’ll go over 3 major risks facing many journalists today. Keep in mind that, while I’m only listing 3 risks, journalists face many more. To go over the risks of a journalist would require hours upon hours of time, and even then, I doubt I’d scratch the surface.
Without further ado, let’s go over the cybersecurity risks of a journalist.
- Risk of Being Identified
Many journalists work night-and-day to never be identified. Being identified—especially when in a country or area unaccepting of journalists—could mean the end of their freedom. This is also why pseudonyms are a common but controversial tactic of many journalists.
- Risk of Having Data Stolen
Journalists spend days, weeks, months, or even years scouring for specific information on certain topics. Many of them are fine spending a lengthy amount of time searching for information, but having said that, stolen information is a different story—a story many journalists have been the unfortunate protagonist of.
Losing this data carries the risk of having the journalist lose their reputation, as well. After all, this data could include their sources, which journalists promise privacy and safety.
- Risk of Unsecure Communication
Speaking of sources, journalists must always keep communication to a minimum. And when they do need to communicate or meet with their sources, they must make sure they’re not being eavesdropped on or worse.
If a journalist’s laptop is bugged or has a virus on it that takes advantage of the system’s microphone, their (and their source’s) life could be put in danger.
Three Ways Journalists Can Protect Themselves
So, now that we’ve discussed the risks journalists experience throughout the career, the question must be asked: how can journalists protect themselves? Fortunately, there are many ways to do so. The best part? The solutions are as easy as downloading a program and turning it on.
To stay in the theme of the last section, I’ll be presenting 3 solutions to the cybersecurity problems of the modern-day journalist.
- Use a VPN
Perhaps one of the more popular solutions listed here, many journalists use a virtual private network (VPN) to protect themselves and their sources.
A VPN actively encrypts any data your device sends out or receives, meaning no one is able to encrypt any of the data. VPNs are a useful tool when it comes to protecting both your research and sources.
Also, taking advantage of a secure VPN connection helps a bit with the second point I’m about to make.
- Stay off of Public Networks
Public networks are easily accessible, allow people to work away from their home office, and offer a nice, relaxing place to hang out in. However, their main weakness comes in the form of security. To put it simply, public networks are not secure in the slightest.
A VPN can help with this by keeping your data encrypted, but I advise any journalist to simply stay off public networks whenever possible.
- Keep Your Devices Locked Up
While not exactly cybersecurity, keeping your physical devices locked up in a safe place will do wonders for a journalist’s security. After all, it’s no secret that many journalists find themselves victims of “random” thefts.
There’s no telling what could happen to your device, so be sure to keep it locked up and secure.
A journalist faces many risks while out in the field searching for information, but the one risk that follows them wherever they go is cybersecurity. Many of them today are taught about the importance of cybersecurity, but not all—a problem I want to help bring awareness to.
If you’re a journalist and have never paid attention to cybersecurity, well…later is better than never!
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