Robert Todoroski: Practicing good cyber hygiene

Robert Todoroski has over twenty years of experience in the IT industry. He dedicated the last couple of years of his career to helping media outlets and civil society organizations combat cyberattacks and minimize threats. He held the master class on security on the first day of the conference.

Author: Filip Mirilović / Photo: Vanja Čerimagić

The interlocutor spoke about the lack of awareness among journalists when it comes to caring about even basic levels of cyber hygiene, the most important things that reporters need to protect, and some valuable tips in securing online communication.

The protection of journalists is a pretty current topic in the Western Balkans nowadays, but the accent is still on physical security. Are media outlets and journalists in the WB region even capable of resisting the threats and challenges in the digital sphere?

In a way, I think yes and no. Some outlets are ready to respond to the cyber-attacks and protect themselves, to protect the data and the sources they are working with. Some outlets are not, so many times I have seen that.

Why is digital security important?

Digital security is important to protect your privacy, your private things, and things you know about others as a reporter.

Are journalists alone taking care of being secure in the digital sphere?

Just a small percentage of journalists pay attention to protecting their assets and data. So many times, journalists are running for the story without thinking that they are taking someone else on their back.

During your master class, you spoke a lot about the threats and attacks from social engineering. Besides that, what is the biggest issue for journalists in the digital sphere?

Besides social engineering, the state actors are the biggest threats to the media outlets and the reports. If they want to get the information, they have unlimited resources to get, they have the experts, the finances, and the access.

How to protect from them?

By protecting your data and practicing good cyber hygiene.

To what extent is it important for journalists to secure themselves during online communications, and how should they do it?

Digital security is important not only in communication between journalists and sources, but also among journalists and between journalists and family member. Because the communication could be hacked or intercepted, or used to blackmail. They should use applications that have end-to-end encryption, like Signal for example. Or, if you use Whatsapp, there are settings on how to use end-to-end encryption on it. There are some others that are made for journalists. One of them is Brier which uses peer-to-peer communication on the Tor network, and it does not require the internet. That is the most secure application for journalists.