5 Journalist Privacy Tips on Staying Undercover Online

Journalists are the ones who collect the news stuff, often right from the place where it has happened. They are the ones who essentially feed our newsfeeds that we later gorge on. So, literally speaking, they serve as extensions of our senses and keep us informed of everything that’s happening around us.

However, no matter how simple it might sound, journalism is always fraught with risks, more so for those who are into investigative journalism dealing with hate crimes or reporting on the misdeeds of those in the higher echelons of society. In addition, of course, reporting on things that may have cross-border ramifications, such as an act of terrorism, can be equally risky. But, of course, the criminals or the corrupted wouldn’t like information to be unearthed to put their safety or image at risk.

All of this makes it imperative for journalists to adopt measures to mitigate risk to their safety. Read on to find out five such tips that can be lifesaving as well.

Use strong password

These are the lifeline in the digital age. But, just as losing the keys to your home can make the entire place vulnerable to all sorts of crimes, the same goes with all your online accounts and devices. With us becoming increasingly dependent on technology and devices, it becomes essential that we password protect each of our devices and services that we rely on.

Also, refrain from using the same password everywhere. That makes things simple but puts at stake the security of your entire digital presence. Instead, each of them should be a strong password having 12 – 15 characters at least. You can use a password manager and help keep all your passwords neatly arranged and save you from memorizing each password.

Use a VPN

Those can be your best bet if you wish to keep your online identity under a cloak of secrecy. Not only does a VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypt all your online data, but VPN use also masks your real IP address so that all your online activities remain untraceable. As a result, even your ISP won’t have a clue of what you are up to while online. That includes the sites you have visited, your online search history, any purchase that you may have made online, and so on.

Use aliases

More often than not, you will end up searching for things online. Also, most services won’t let you have a complete experience unless you are a member of their site. And it is here that things might get tricky if you use your personal or official contact details. But, again, on the flip side, you might not be entertained at all unless you have the credentials to prove a reputable media house backs you.

In such a scenario, talk to your superiors and see if they provide any contact details that are more general and apply to the entire organization instead of a particular individual. If that is problematic, ask your project head if they can provide temporary contact info that you can use to log in to a site. However, whatever the situation might be, use your own personal details only as of the very last resort.


Make sure you always stick to a secure email service or else, you are at the mercy of the hackers. Also, refrain from clicking on any links you receive via email or messages unless you are doubly sure of who the sender is. You might also consider using a PGP key to secure your communication, as this ensures only you and the sender can open the information.

Use secure messaging platforms

Journalists can be like under-cover agents and need to have their sources to get news from. However, while gathering information from the sources is vital, avoid doing so via just about any messaging service. Instead, opt for only those that provide end-to-end encryption. Those are hard to break into, and even if anyone manages to do it, they will only get gibberish stuff as all of your messages have been encrypted.

Most telecom companies store information like the caller and receiver’s contact numbers, the location of the individual devices when the calls were made, identification numbers of the devices used to communicate, and such. However, there are negligible chances of such info being accessed if you are using a secure messaging app that provides all-around encryption of your sharing data. Heeding to the above tips can help ease things for journalists, who otherwise are often the target of those who have committed a crime. The above can prove to be lifesaving too, as it will reduce the chances of others manipulating or stealing your data. Just keep in mind the above, and you should be fine.

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