How to Communicate Securely with the Media
The person Greenwald now knows as Edward Snowden began contacting him via open email, urging Greenwald to learn how to use encryption and other web tools to receive sensitive information. When Greenwald was slow to act, Snowden even made a video tutorial to baby-step him through the necessary procedures. Absent these extraordinary efforts by Snowden, who knows when or even if his game-changing NSA information would have come to light.
You don’t have to wait for some future Snowden to teach you how to communicate securely, thanks to Trevor Timm, co-founder and the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
Freedom of the Press Foundation has helped news organizations install SecureDrop, an open-source whistleblower submission system that helps sources get documents to journalists in a much more anonymous and secure way than email. Currently, journalists at five major news organizations in the United States use SecureDrop. Here’s how to use it:
— Find a public wifi internet connection that is not connected to your work or home, such as a coffee shop. Take the bus to a new place you’ll not visit again.
— Download and install the Tor Browser Bundle. For more security, also install and use the Tails operating system. For maximum security, run all this off a flash drive you bought with cash, and throw away the drive after one use.
TAILS can be run from a DVD, too. An alternate method for communicating might be:
– burn TAILS onto a DVD
– use a computer somewhere you don’t normally go (per orig. instructions)
– turn off computer when finished
There will be no permanent record of your communications on the computer or DVD.
–Using the Tor Browser, enter in your news organization’s Onion URL (below). Only load this URL inside the Tor Browser.
— Follow the instructions on the SecureDrop screen.
Here are Onion URLs for the five groups of journalists currently operating SecureDrop:
The Intercept: y6xjgkgwj47us5ca.onion
New Yorker: strngbxhwyuu37a3.onion
Wired’s Kevin Poulsen: poulsensqiv6ocq4.onion
Added via commenter Cujo359:
Washington Post: vbmwh445kf3fs2v4.onion
Project On Government Oversight (POGO): dqeasamlf3jld2kz.onion
A Plea to Computer People
I have heard from many journalists their concern that sources are unaware or incapable of communicating securely. Many times the journalist, who may or may not really understand this stuff, ends up trying to explain it to an already-nervous source whose computer skills may be basic at best. Every one of the writers say the same thing: someone please create a secure system for dummies.
So, computer people of the web, please consider this. Create a one-button click piece of software that installs all the software needed on a flash drive. The users need only plug in the flash drive and click one button. Create the necessary front ends so that the software can be used by anyone. Please don’t write in and say “But it is already so easy to use.” Experience is that it is not. Think software that your grandma could make work. For better or worse, many people who are or who might communicate important information to responsible journalists need your help. Without your help, many will either not communicate at all, or put themselves at increased risk by communicating insecurely.
Anyone takes great personal risk, including financial ruin and potential jail time, by transmitting to journalists, so all the warnings and caveats apply. Do not leak or transmit classified information. Courts are attacking journalists’ abilities to protect their sources. Though Snowden and others have endorsed the use of systems such as described here, there is no information now available on if/how the NSA can monitor such communications, now or in the future. The FBI has successfully, on a known, limited scale, monitored some parts of the Tor Network. Everything else. This is America, 2014. We’re on our own to fix our country.