The year journalists become digital security experts

“To tell stories, they will need to understand the digital security dynamics of the subjects they write about. To preserve their own security, they will need to implement hardened digital security tools and practices in their own work.”

The stakes have never been higher: Security breaches routinely make front-page news, and digital security has become a formidable challenge for companies, consumers, politicians, and everyone in between. So far, journalists don’t seem to have been publicly compromised too often. But in 2018, that may change. Stories and confidential sources may be leaked after journalistic institutions are breached. Journalists would be embarrassed, sources would be more cautious, and doing good work would get harder.

All this will become a significant digital security challenge for journalists. To tell stories, they will need to understand the digital security dynamics of the subjects they write about. To preserve their own security, they will need to implement hardened digital security tools and practices in their own work. Digital security will become a core part of the job.

The good news is that digital security has never been easier. For example, hardware security keys provide excellent protection for many common accounts including Google, Facebook, Dropbox, and GitHub. A number of different vendors sell security keys; most cost a few dollars and can be set up in a matter of minutes. Server security has also improved, with a number of cloud providers offering hardened security services.

In 2018, journalists will also think more deeply about the nature of digital security and how digital attackers view the world. Some journalists will emerge as unexpected global experts on practical digital security, rivaling the gurus of the software development community.

By building expertise on digital security, journalists will begin to inform the understanding and decision-making of universities, enterprises, nonprofits, governments, and beyond. Journalists have a unique ability to share their knowledge with the world. When it comes to digital security, that new reservoir of knowledge will change everything.

is the lead product manager of Jigsaw at Google.

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