In this era of cyber attacks, Journalists have been asked to be extra careful with what they use the mail for as it can serve as a conduit for probably hackers and spywares.
Nicole Perloth, a Journalist and author who disclosed this when she briefed some selected Journalists during a virtual training programme organized by the United States press on the topic, "The impact of cybersecurity and cybercrime on society", also explained and warned that "we need to protect our firms and sources".
"Using your mail for official business or transactions poses so much threat and danger to your person as you can be tracked to where ever your location may be incase you are being targeted by any of the spy agents of the spy world," she added.
She explained that, Journalist have increasingly become targets of their work and as such need to thread cautiously with what they do in order not to unnecessarily expose their activities and be able to cover their tracks whenever they are pursuing a story that is related to cybersecurity or investigating a cyber related crime.
She further added that Journalists should take their security into their own hands in order not to become victims of cyber war.
"It is imperative to note that once you go after them, they will also come after you and as a way to duck, you can go off grid and not be accessible through any digital means.
"Learn not to keep vital information and your sources in your official private mail addresses," she added.
Outlining some personal measures she adopted to ensure her safety, she noted that, "Take the most sensitive conversations as much as you can offline. I would have source meetings where we would just meet on this Tuesday, every quarter, that’s the third Tuesday of the month -- and I’m making that up. It was a different day. But the third Tuesday of the month, every quarter, at the same bench or restaurant and we would never digitally communicate".
"According to the internet we had never met. And I would not bring my phone. I would not bring my laptop. I would bring good old pen and paper. I would never take an Uber there. I would never drive in my GPS-navigated car in case that was hacked.
"I’d find my way there through essentially public transportation and I would meet this person and that is the only way we would ever communicate. So these were some of the security measures I used to protect my self things," she reiterated.
Touching on cybercrime, she maintained that it has obviously become a huge problem and that it is only getting to be more so with ransomware.
"When I started at the New York Times it was really, Cybercrime was really related to spam. Identity theft, credit card theft. Now it’s all ransomware all of the time and it’s coming for things like critical infrastructure, like the Colonial Pipeline hack in the United States, and also governments. Government agencies," she mentioned.
Giving classical examples of cyber attacks, she mentioned that, "The Los Angeles School District, universities and hospitals. The school district was just held hostage with ransomware. Albania was just held hostage in a ransomware attack by Iranian hackers that now has forced them to cut off diplomatic relations. The first time we’ve ever seen something like that."
Worried about how cybercrime is really becoming a national security threat, she, however, noted that there are so many national security dynamics at play, like safe harbor. "Iran for example gives its cybercriminals safe harbor. Russia gives its cybercriminals safe harbor and really sees them as a national asset".
"So it will be in your own interest to ensure your own safety though the American government is doing what ever it can to ensure a safe environment for the cyber space. Apply the bare basics of cyber hygiene using different very long. password on your email, your bank accounts and on your encrypted messaging accounts.
"Do not reuse the same password, and use two-factor authentication."
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