Sadly, where there are advanced communication devices, hacking is not far behind. Everyone has something to lose from getting hacked, but journalists have their careers on the line.
How can journalists keep an anonymous source confidential and safe if they can’t even prevent someone from hacking their phones? There are nefarious organizations and even governments which hack journalists’ phones to obtain confidential information or contacts. People have been killed — the stakes are that high.
That’s why seeing industry-leading device encryption wrapped underneath the Christmas tree is sure to bring a smile to any journalist’s face this holiday season.
The first aspect of security is the quality of encryption on the device. Industry-leading encryption has multiple layers:
- A custom compression algorithm
- Elliptical Curve Cryptography
- PGP encrypted messaging
- Man in the middle protection
The messages protected by the best device encryption in the world can only be opened by the intended recipient, who alone has the key needed to access the message stored on the device itself. This level of security can help journalists feel confident that they can keep the identity of their sources confidential.
However, even the world’s best encryption alone isn’t enough to safeguard your privacy.
Beyond “End-to-End Encryption”
Some apps that offer “end-to-end encryption” present themselves as full-fledged security solutions, but they have other vulnerabilities. For one thing, they require permissions to access your personal data, which is the reason you can download their app without paying. It’s hard to know what they do with this data, but so long as they have access to it, journalists can’t trust it’s secure.
Plus, a hacker doesn’t necessarily even need to decrypt messages to access your communication, so they need to be shut out from all other aspects of the phone. Secure phones need several other crucial features.
Leading platforms let journalists send self-destructing messages, which can’t be favorited, forwarded, or saved by recipients. Pictures and notes can also be set to self-destruct after a set amount of time.
The Notebook lock screen should have a custom PIN for two-factor authentication. The camera and pictures should be guarded by the same level of encryption as messages, and the phone shouldn’t carry any cached image data. The phone should always encrypt content before storing it internally on the phone, a feature rarely found except on the best platforms.
Group chat and anonymous group chats are important because journalists need to sift through many contacts and work on tight deadlines. The world is smaller than ever before, and journalism was always a global occupation — look for encryption tools that are available in multiple languages, including English, Portuguese, German, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Dutch, and more. Expect new languages to be added.
Journalists work in a charged political environment, and the pandemic has only made conditions worse. George Orwell famously said, “journalism is printing what someone else doesn’t want printed; everything else is public relations.” This holiday season, journalists who value confidentiality and security should hope to find a phone with world-class security under their Christmas tree.