Protecting Journalists in High Cyber Risk

A little more than a decade ago, risky situations for journalists were often linked to wars, conflicts and areas complicated by eminently political reasons. As with everyone else, there are increasing cyber risks that can endanger their lives or those of their sources, their reputation, and the veracity of their information. 

According to the 2023 edition of Freedom in the World -its 50th commemoration of yearly reports-, Global freedom has been declining for 17 years in a row. 

As essential gatekeepers are confronted with more sophisticated cyber attacks -from hacking, to phishing, harassment and monitoring attacks- the risks that journalists face are growing dramatically and aggravating one of the major challenges for journalism nowadays: credibility.  

In a world hungry for information and permanent exchange of information, the same Internet that powers the 24-Hour News Cycle is also the main entry point for these attacks.

A target in the spotlight 

Journalists are in the spotlight because they denounce, “discomfort” and shed light on public interest issues like war, terrorism, corruption and crime. Media industry seems to be a target for disinformation and for attackers, more than other sectors, often abusing the lack of regulation in the Social Media and as victims of cyber surveillance technologies and spyware. 


Available data from our partner CyberPeace Institute #Ukraine monitoring platform shows a trend of increased cyber-attacks since the military invasion, and journalists are regular targets. IoT poses in addition many threats in the field, at home and in the office. 


Additional protection, training and accessible tools are needed, experts emphasize. Media organizations should include extra layers of cybersecurity solutions and processes to better protect themselves. 

Sponsored by Craig Newmark Philanthropies and aligned with a holistic Cyber Civil Defense (1) effort, GCA offers a specific resource for independent journalists, watchdogs and newsrooms, including basic cybersecurity notions, two-step authentication and password protection tips, and recommendations to update software.  It is complemented by an advisory group formed by reporters of recognized solvency.

#### (1) The CCD coalition was formed in 2022 and focuses on bringing a whole-of-society approach to bear to defend people, organizations, communities, and nations from cyber insecurity.

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