20. Protecting data and sources

Online, as in real life, a journalist must be able to protect their sources. In this age of hackers, it is important to know how to hide tracks on the internet to avoid being traced, a bit like a sleuth who ensures they are not being followed.

Communicating securely

To put it bluntly, you will never be as well protected when communicating with a source as you would be when you meet face to face with no electronic device around. Initial contact rarely takes place in this way. If you work in the world of investigative journalism, you might therefore need to obtain a PGP key that will allow you to encrypt your conversations. You can also opt for ready-made solutions such as ProtonMail email accounts.

Browsing the internet anonymously

Being discreet online also means not leaving a trace. Every computer in the world has an “address” of its own, which is called the IP address. When you connect to servers that host websites, you leave a trace.

Therefore, it may be useful to conceal your IP address so that you can browse anonymously. The best tools available for doing this are VPNs. These are pieces of software that you install on your computer that allow you to use a secure “tunnel” between your device and the internet. Your IP address is concealed and your data are encrypted.

Most VPNs can also act as a proxy server, which allows you to conceal or change your location and browse the web anonymously, wherever you are.

Some useful and secure tools

Browsing securely online also means respecting the basic rules of digital safety. Varying your passwords, making them more complex by using capital letters, numbers and punctuation marks, this is basic safety. Except that remembering dozens of codes can be complicated. You can use a tool to save your passwords, such as LastPass, to help you.

If you want to store and analyse sensitive documents online, it is best not to use the traditional storage tools of large digital companies. The all-in-one tool is OverviewDocs. In addition to protecting your documents, it allows you to annotate them, file them and perform very efficient text searches.

Finally, for those who wish to communicate with sensitive sources on a daily basis, it is again best to avoid traditional messaging services. In this area, Telegram and Signal are the tools considered to be the most secure.