To help journalists fend off attackers, Global Cyber Alliance releases free toolkit

With threats increasing in cyberspace, the kit is said to especially support journalists who depend on their own devices. The tools include setup of automatic backups, secure communications, and encryption of data

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The Global Cyber Alliance (GCA) has released a free toolkit aimed at helping journalists, watchdogs, and small newsrooms bolster their cybersecurity practices as they are increasingly targeted by malicious actors. 

In a press release, the GCA said that as journalists around the world have long been targets of cyberattacks, whether reporting on politics, crime, or simply being a target for the spread of disinformation, the alliance assembled its Cybersecurity Toolkit for Journalists, which the media can use to shore up their cyber defenses, protect their devices and data, and help safeguard their online presence.

The set of tools especially supports those professionals who depend on their own devices, whether they are freelancers, work for small institutions, or spend a lot of time in the field. Watchdogs, such as those who work with vulnerable sources or manage large amounts of sensitive data, can also benefit from the toolkit. The free tools include encryption of data, set-up of automatic backups, secure communications, and more, according to the alliance.

The GCA, a non-profit, multi-sector coalition of organizations focused on reducing cyber vulnerability worldwide, was founded in September 2015 by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the City of London Police, and the Center for Internet Security.

"In the fast-moving world of cyber threats, journalists face a daunting task: how to protect themselves and their sources while gathering and reporting critical information. We've seen the damage done to news organizations large and small by malicious actors. It can be a whack-a-mole effort to fend off those assaults; the GCA toolkit presents a methodical, step-by-step approach to fending off attackers before they strike," remarked Joie Chen, former CNN broadcast journalist.

The toolkit follows best practice recommendations provided by the Center for Internet Security, the UK National Cybersecurity Centre, and the Australia Cybersecurity Centre. These global guidelines provide the blueprint for the organization of the toolkit and selection of the tools included, the GCA said.

"Journalists are under constant threat – and many don't have access to the support provided by large organizations. GCA's initiative could hardly be more timely, and I've no doubt it will make an enormous contribution to mitigating those threats and supporting journalism," said Martin Turner, CEO, Full Frame Technology and former BBC journalist.

To support adoption and use of the toolkit, the GCA has also made available a community forum where members of the journalism community can pose questions, share challenges and experiences, propose solutions, and interact with each other and GCA cybersecurity experts.

"My high school history teacher once said that a trustworthy press is the immune system for democracy. So as more and more news is read online, journalists need to keep up their cyber hygiene," said Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies, which provided support for the toolkit. "We're living in a critical time for the truth. We must all remain vigilant, but I especially encourage journalists to use this toolkit and maintain the integrity of the fourth estate." 

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