Select Page

Information Security for Journalists

With journalist Silkie Carlo I have co-authored a ‘handbook’ on practical information security for journalists commissioned by the UK Centre for Investigative Journalism. The CIJ handbook ‘Information Security for Journalists‘ was launched at the CIJ Summer School 2014 in London. The book will be forever freely available in a range of electronic formats – see download links below. In the four months after the initial publication in we have rewritten certain parts based on feedback from the initial readers and updated other parts to stay current with the latest software changes. Many thanks to all who gave us valuable feedback.

Altough this book was originally written for investigative journalists most of the described concepts and technical solutions are just as usable by lawyers or advisors protecting communications with their clients, doctors protecting medical privacy and of course politicians, activists or anyone else who engages powerful state and corporate organisations. Really, we’re all journalists now. Inside the book is a mailadres for getting in touch, please let us know how your are using it and what we can do better.

If you have reasons to suspect your online movements are already under some form of surveilance you should not download this book using a computer or netwpork associated with your identity (such as your home or work systems).

Several participants of journalist training programs have written articles: Information security for journalists: staying secure online by Alastair Reid (from – A day with the surveillance expert by Jason Murdock, – Valentina Novak wrote this interview after a lecture & workshop in Slovenia last November.

On Tuesday July 8th 2014 I was once more a guest on Max Keiser’s programme ‘The Keiser Report‘ to discuss the book. Video here on my blog, here on RT site and here on Youtube.

From the ‘backflap’ of the book:

This handbook is a very important practical tool for journalists and it is of particular importance to investigative reporters. For the first time journalists are now aware that virtually every electronic communication we make or receive is being recorded, stored and subject to analysis and action. As this surveillance is being conducted in secret, without scrutiny, transparency or any realistic form of accountability, our sources, our stories and our professional work itself is under threat.

Journalists were dismayed by the realisation that almost all digital communications are now being recorded; for them and their sources there are real risks and now danger in their work. This danger does not just worry reporters, whistleblowers and other sources, but all those who hear privileged information and whose privacy is considered fundamental to the courts, the practice of law, and justice in all of its meanings.  Lawyers and accountants and their clients are now without the protection of client confidentiality, and are vulnerable to the secret surveillance of an increasingly authoritarian and unaccountable state.

After knowing how Snowden’s disclosures were safely presented to the public, we know that there are real safeguards and counter measures available.  The CIJ’s latest handbook, Information Security for Journalists, lays out the most effective means of keeping your work private and safe from spying.  It explains how to write safely, how to think about security and how to safely receive, store and send information that a government or powerful corporation may be keen for you not to know, to have or to share.  To ensure your privacy and the safety of your sources, Information Security for Journalists will help you to make your communications indecipherable, untraceable and anonymous.

When planning work that must remain private and confidential it is important to carefully assess the level of threat that may be associated with it.   Shop floor maintenance, building site health and safety, restaurant hygiene, and hospital cleaning may be areas where the precautions and methods described here are unnecessary or might act to complicate and slow down your work. In these cases a phone call made or received away from work or home to a source or a reporter, may ensure sufficient protection at least in making an initial contact.

People working or reporting on national security, the military, intelligence, nuclear affairs, or at high levels of the state and in major corporations should probably consider this handbook as very important to their safety.

Although this handbook is largely about how to use your computer, you don’t need to have a computer science degree to use it. Its authors, and other experts advising on the project have worked to ensure its practical accuracy and usability.  The authors expect that after six months, updates and some changes will be required.  Please return to download the latest edition. You will not want to download this on a machine or network identified with or close to your employer or your source or your home.

Gavin MacFadyen, Director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism

Download links for the book in PDF for printing on A4 format, ePub (ebook for iPhone, iPad & Android devices, MOBI & AWZ3 for Kindle eReaders, LIT for older eReaders and FB2 for Samsung Bada and other Java eReaders. For easy management of ebook collections I strongly recomend the free and Free Software Calibre application. The 1-page instruction leaflet for starting Tails USB-drives here. The entire book is also available as a set of webpages for reading on your laptop as your set it up. Slides from the Summer School 2014 lectures on information security are here in PDF and PPT.

This handbook is being translated into Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Portugese, Spanish, and other languages.


Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Licence for humansLicence for lawyers.