Safety and security online is important for all of our users, but especially for journalists in the field conducting difficult—sometimes dangerous—reporting.
Journalists are susceptible to a number of risks. Reporters covering oppressive regimes or working in regions where freedom of the press is limited have been targeted by government-backed attackers. Newsrooms have fallen victim to phishing attempts by malicious hackers trying to steal their account passwords. Entire news sites have been taken down by DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. And journalists’ data is increasingly at risk from cyber attacks.
Despite this elevated risk, according to a recent study of more than 2,700 newsroom managers and journalists from 130 countries, at least half of those surveyed don’t use any tools or methods to protect their data and information online. Given the importance of journalism to open societies everywhere, we want to ensure that newsrooms and journalists are equipped with the tools and training they need to be successful—and safe—while doing their work. In the past, we’ve written about how anyone can protect their Google accounts and minimize security risks while using our products. But to address online safety for journalists, we’ve worked with the Jigsaw team and engineers from across the company to offer a few resources:
Project Shield helps protect news sites from DDoS attacks for free.Digital Attack Map, a data visualization of DDoS attacks around the globe, can help journalists better understand the threat these attacks pose.Password Alert helps protect and defend against password phishing attempts.We offer trainings on safety and security, specifically focused on journalists. You can check out a recent webinar to help journalists understand whether they’re at at risk, and what to do about it.
We also offer the Advanced Protection program for journalists who are at heightened risk. You should look into this program if you answer “yes” to any of these questions:Do you work in a hostile climate?Do you feel that your sources need stronger protections against potential adversaries?Do you get messages about government-backed attacks on Gmail?Do you see suspicious activities around your account? (e.g., password recovery attempts not initiated by you)Would your work be viewed as controversial by some people?
We encourage you to share these resources with your colleagues and friends, and talk to your IT department about what they’re doing to protect your newsroom’s data. It may be worth holding a security risk assessment training with your newsroom using the assets above, or request a training on safety and security for journalists (provided by the Google News Lab) at firstname.lastname@example.org.