Journalists expose what powerful institutions and people want to be kept private, so it’s not a surprise that they need to make sure their own communications are confidential. Tragically, journalists get murdered every year in countries worldwide.
It’s impossible to overstate the extent to which the stakes are high. Daphne Caruana Galizia was an investigative reporter from Malta who worked on the Panama Papers, a collaborative international effort to expose how the ultra-wealthy shield their income using tax havens. In October of 2017, she was murdered in a mysterious car bomb that still hasn’t been solved.
It was very likely a hacked phone call on the platform WhatsApp that led to Jamal Khashoggi’s murder at the hands of the Saudi Arabian government, headed by Mohammed bin Salman. The phrase “murder the media” was carved into the door of the US capital on January 6 by rabid supporters of the former US president.
Several apps promise users “end-to-end encryption,” including WhatsApp, the one Jamal Khashoggi used. Even Jeff Bezos’ WhatsApp was hacked, so clearly, that platform is not secure. Industry leaders like ChatMail offer military-grade encryption inspired by the world’s best cryptographers.
Not all encryption is the same, and merely saying “end-to-end encryption” doesn’t mean your platform is impenetrable. Journalists can rely on military-grade encryption on a platform that is also easy for non-technical users to navigate.
Security Aside From Encryption
The prime directive for a journalist is to ensure their sensitive information remains private until the story is ready for publication. If a hacker can sidestep the encryption and find another way into your communications, you may as well not have encryption.
Leading platforms offer an array of security features to ensure your content remains confidential.
Set an optional duress password for your device. If someone enters the wrong password too many times, all your sensitive data will be instantly erased. Even if your phone falls into the wrong hands, the information on it can’t be accessed.
Messages, photos, and notes marked to “self-destruct” will be destroyed on both devices after a set amount of time, even if the phone isn’t currently connected to data. Such content can’t be favorited, forwarded, or saved.
Notebook Lock Screen
One basic security barrier is an important one: the phone should have a Notebook lock screen with a custom pin for two-factor security.
Encrypted Cameras And Photos
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a photographer’s work is worth as much as a reporter’s notes and articles. A photo can be just as sensitive as any investigative research, so journalists need a phone that doesn’t cache image data and defaults to the best image quality with the smallest file size.
Journalists face enough challenges on their own without having to fear for their lives. The threats journalists face exist in conflict zones and wealthy industrial cities, so military-grade encryption with a suite of complementary features truly is an essential tool.
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