Help a Journalist Secure Their Online Data

The more you can do to help journalists manage their online data prior to an attack the better protected they will be. This is because online attackers will often use a journalists’ personal data to harass and intimidate them. Taking steps to get data removed in advance will limit the amount of information available to attackers.

Next Steps

Map their online profile

Work with journalists to map out their online profile by having them search for their name on all search engines and note down information that makes them vulnerable. This may include location details, such as their address, or content on their social media accounts, such as personal photos, that give away a lot of personal data.

Removing data

Journalists should remove unwanted data from their own sites or social media. If content is held on the sites of family or friends then the journalist will need to speak to them to see if it can be removed. Data held on third-party platforms, such as public databases, can be more difficult to remove as that may be required to be made public by law. Be aware that it can take time to take down content from the internet so the sooner journalists are able to do so the better. 

Secure their accounts

Online attackers may try to access both the work and personal accounts of journalists. Coordinate with the media outlet’s IT department to ensure that extra protection, such as two-factor authentication (2FA), is turned on for all accounts and that journalists are following the password policy of the media outlet. Encourage journalists to better protect their personal accounts. Visit our page on secure accounts for more information.

Plan for online violence using risk assessments

Predicting when online harassment may occur before publishing a story will help journalists better protect against it. Build preventative measures into risk assessment documents and make editors aware of steps to take to help journalists prepare and respond. 

For Journalists in the USA

Journalists living in the USA are highly likely to have a lot of personal data about them available online in public databases. This may include their address, personal phone number and the names of relatives. This data is made easily searchable by people finder sites, which abusers can use to locate, contact, and doxx journalists.

To reduce the risk of journalists’ personal information being made public and used to harass and intimidate them, newsrooms should consider signing up members of staff for services that remove their data from such sites. Common services include DeleteMe or Privacy Duck.  Be aware that it can take time to remove data from the internet so these services are best used in advance of an attack happening. 

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Additional Resources

Learn more about securing online data with the following resources.