Protecting Whistleblowers in the Digital Age

Interesting editorial by Christopher Soghoian in the New York Times today, in which he argues that journalists need to be far more mindful about protecting their sources in the digital age. Cell phones, email and other new media devices can too easily be hacked to be secure. Soghoian cites the example of the Wall Street Journal‘s so-called “secure” website for leaks–which turned out to be anything but. Or how easy it was for French intelligence agencies to figure out the identity of a government whisteblower leaking sensitive information to Le Monde–by simply pulling the journalist’s phone records.

Here’s Soghoian’s kicker:

Whatever one thinks of [Julian] Assange, he is a skilled data security expert. He knows an awful lot more about information security than even the most tech-savvy journalist. His platform appears to have worked: none of WikiLeaks’s confidential sources have ever been exposed by the organization. (Bradley E. Manning, the detained Army private who has been accused of the leak, was exposed by an acquaintance.)

Until journalists take their security obligations seriously, it will be safer to leak something to WikiLeaks — or groups like it — than to the mainstream press.

Well, we wouldn’t go quite that far. Soghoian seems to have forgotten about Daniel Domscheit-Berg and the Bank of America debacle, in which 3,500 leaked files were erased before they could be published. Assange may be an online security expert. But he doesn’t seem to be much good at dealing with the people right in front of him.

H/T Witness LA