Earlier today, the Brookings Institution hosted a discussion with FBI Director James B. Comey, who made the case that steps taken by Apple and Google to protect user privacy were damaging the FBI's efforts to fight crime and safeguard U.S. national security. The discussion was due to take place hours before Apple launched its latest iPads, which benefit from the updated security features of the new iOS 8 operating system.
Journalists are among those most likely to face technical attempts at attack and interception. Reporting is based on discussions with sources who may want to remain out of the limelight, and news sites attract extensive readership, making them a desirable target for potential attackers. But there are simple steps to protect against the most common form of eavesdropping, and journalists should be aware of the types of technical adversaries they may face.
The year is 1991, the month April. EMF is playing on the radio. The term "cyberspace" has existed for only half a decade. The world wide web won't exist for another four months. The software engineer Linus Torvalds has only just started work on the Linux operating system. The fastest computer you can own has a 50 Mhz processor. Yes *megahertz*, with a *M*.
I remember sitting with a Yahoo employee in 2009, talking about the lack of protective encryption on Yahoo's Web mail accounts. Like many, the employee had been caught up in the news of how Iranians were using the Internet to document and protest the presidential elections in that country, and had grown worried about the possibility of governments intercepting Yahoo customer's emails without due process. As an immigrant from a repressive regime, he told me, he was aware of how much danger this posed. He said he was going to raise the topic internally.
Ethiopia has always been a country at the cutting edge of Internet censorship in Africa. In the wake of violence after the 2005 elections, when other states were only beginning to recognize the potential for online reporters to bypass traditional pressures, Meles Zenawi's regime was already blocking major news sites and blog hosts such as blogspot.com. Some sites and Web addresses have been blocked for their reporting ever since, including exiled media like Addis Neger Online and Awramba Times.
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