Freedom of the press has been under threat for a while now, especially in countries that have been moving toward a more authoritative regime. For this reason, working as a journalist has become increasingly dangerous.

You can read stories about imprisoned and even murdered journalists. Even emerging bloggers can take things too far and end up on the radar of the state. The state then hires hackers to oppose the reporters.

One other thing to note is that it is not always the journalists themselves who can become a target. Imagine yourself cooperating with an informant. A bit of carelessness could lead to putting this informant in danger.

Considering the consequences and what is at stake, you need to be more mindful of cybersecurity and extra cautious about the work you do online.

How to Use Cybersecurity While Working as a Journalist

Use Antivirus Software

Let’s start with antivirus software, which is considered one of the cornerstones of a secure work setup. The purpose of antivirus software is to monitor the computer and warn you about a potential threat.

You might encounter a threat when you least expect it, and there is no telling how harmful that threat will be to a computer and your data.

In addition to a tool that detects and warns you about malware, you can also consider extra investment in a tool that helps you remove malware from the work computer while also allowing you to clean up temporary system junk, such as cache, to reduce the risks further.

One rule of thumb about antivirus tools is that you need to have them running in the background all the time when on a computer, even if they consume some system resources. Your safety while working as a journalist should always be the priority.

Be Smart About Your Password Usage

Login credentials you use to access emails, cloud services, and other online accounts should be known to you and only to you.

The problem with securing passwords is that you cannot guarantee that one of the online services you use is not prone to a cybersecurity attack. If personal user data, including passwords, gets exposed, you might not have enough time to react.

For starters, make sure that you do not use the same passwords for your accounts. If memorizing too many login details is too hard, use a password manager that stores your credentials and can only be accessed with a master password.

Next, avoid simple combinations. Your name and a few numbers will not cut it as a password. Generate a complex character combination and stick to that instead. And just to be extra cautious, use different passwords for different accounts.

Finally, if there is an option for a two-factor authentication feature, utilize that as well. A second step, such as a confirmation code you receive via an email or a text message, adds another security layer to your online profiles.

Back Up Your Devices

Data backups are not a direct way to deflect cyber attacks, but this step is a crucial part of overall cybersecurity management.

The odds of losing data while working as a journalist are not necessarily that high, but they are not zero. Not to mention that the cause could be related to hardware issues or something else which is not a cybersecurity threat.

Between cloud storage and external storage accessories, such as hard drives, you have multiple options to back up your data.

Avoid Public Wi-Fi

While working as a journalist, you are likely to work not just from home. Traveling or changing your location to avoid persecution is on the extreme side, but it happens nonetheless.

It is one thing to use your home network and another to connect to public Wi-Fi. Of course, for someone on the move, the options are limited. In an ideal scenario, you would not rely on a wireless connection in a hotel, bar, or library because public Wi-Fi lacks security protocols and creates a perfect setup for hackers to attack their targets.

If you have no option but to use public Wi-Fi, invest in a virtual private network. VPNs reroute your network through secure servers and encrypt data. It becomes much harder to track the activities of someone who is using a VPN.

As a benefit, virtual private networks also allow you to change your “location” and unblock geo-restricted websites. If a government blocks certain sites for its citizens, a VPN can remedy that.

Stick to Private Messaging Apps

Using social media to reach as many people as you can is common, but publicity can also backfire on a journalist.

It is easier to track public channels, even if you are using direct messages. As such, it is recommended to switch to Telegram or Discord and not use your real name as an additional precaution.

In a similar vein, you are better off using private search engines. Google might be the most popular search engine in the world, but it does not appear to be as private and secure as the company claims.

Alternatives like DuckDuckGo are much better because they do not collect user data and track other activities.


All in all, journalists who risk their lives because of what they report need to prepare and protect themselves against adversaries.

The tips mentioned in the article ought to be enough to build a solid cybersecurity strategy if you’re working as a journalist but one should not get complacent. Even after you establish a routine and stick to it, be mindful of the fact that cyber threats are advancing, and you need to keep up with them. Do not fall into a false sense of security, and always be on your toes.