I2. IoT devices. DMARC.
The first few Global Cyber Alliance staff meetings introduced me to many technical terms that sounded like a charcuterie board for cybersecurity experts.
But, I’d quickly hold my own in this space as well.
Over the course of 14 months that meant attending several journalism conferences, using GCA’s Journalist Toolkit to explain best practices for a reporter’s cyber hygiene.
And with it, came a host of technical – and often critical – questions.
Do I need to encrypt Google Docs? Why shouldn’t I access financial information on public WiFi? Or, what happens if my phone is stolen with two-factor authentication? Is there a way to counter doxxing once my information is made public?
A journalist’s job is to hold those in power accountable and ask often intrusive questions that demand accountability.
So, I was happy to answer these questions and many more throughout my time as a Craig Newmark Journalist Scholar.
The answers often stemmed from my own experiences and best practices. Before joining GCA, I had already used several of the tools in the Journalist Toolkit – Signal, 1Password, and Tor Browser to name a few.
That also meant inquiring about how others approached cybersecurity, including California’s Office of Election Cybersecurity after a recall election.
Or, explaining the risk of deepfakes.
And even getting a taste of my own medicine recently when my longtime smartphone – equipped with two-factor authentication – died with no backup codes available to access my many accounts.
That meant hailing down a taxi the old-fashioned way; by hand. No Lyft or Uber and physical alarm clocks instead of setting a digital one on a phone, too.
I ended up having to manually reach out to each application/company I didn’t have the backup codes for to gain access to my accounts.
There were plenty throughout my time with GCA, but I’m a better journalist for it.
The ever changing and dangerous nature of a cyber attack means always having our devices and information protected, even if it seems onerous at times.
Good cyber hygiene is more than remembering a password, but a conscious effort to minimize harm and use tools that aid in the pursuit of the truth.
Journalist, civilian, or otherwise.