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Data Protection Tips for Whistleblowers and Witnesses of Organized Crime

Posted In Security - By Techtiplib on Friday, April 25th, 2014 With No Comments »

Online privacy is a serious concern for many people. Approximately 3 million people around the world use Tor to protect their privacy. Many others use VPNs and other tools to keep their data secure.

Some people believe that only criminals and conspiracy theorists use these tools. However, there are plenty of legitimate reasons that people want to protect their privacy. Witnesses against organized crime networks, large corporations or other organizations should consider encrypting their data.

Data Protection Tips for Whistleblowers and Witnesses of Organized Crime

Importance of Securing Your Data

As the witness of a crime, you are in a very sensitive position. The people that you are testifying against may want to intimidate you, blackmail you into silence or try to compromise your evidence. You need to make sure that any evidence that you have is protected.

Most of the data that you have will probably be in electronic form. Encrypting and securing electronic records is one of the most important things that you can do.

How Do You Protect Your Data?

There are a number of steps that you can take to protect your data from being stolen or otherwise compromised. Here are some things that you may want to try.

Never Use Your Employer’s Email

Your employer has every legal right to monitor the emails on their own servers. Using your work email address to send sensitive documents to journalists or law enforcement officials is a very bad idea, especially if they are the targets of the investigation. It is also unwise even if your employer isn’t the target of the investigation, because someone in your organization can still identify you as the witness.

It is best not to leave an electronic trail and avoid letting anybody other than journalists or law enforcement know your identity. You will want to setup a different email account that will be difficult to trace.

Hide Your IP

You may be a witness that legitimately wants to help, but you may also not want to make it easy for the government to trace your communications. You may want to share information, but not want to testify against your employer or the criminals.

You should browse the Internet anonymously so that law enforcement can’t identify you as the witness or whistleblower. Otherwise, you run the risk of being subpoenaed to testify against your will. There are a number of applications that you may want to use. Many whistleblowers use Tor, a VPN or a proxy to hide your IP address to browse anonymously.

Encrypt All Data Transmissions

Using Tor or a VPN can be a great way to hide your location. However, they only allow you to browse anonymously if you don’t transfer information. Sending emails, private messages or other communications can expose your identity if you aren’t careful. You will want to use endpoint protection or other tools to encrypt your data.

Thomas Drake is a former executive with the NSA that turned whistleblower against his employer. He  said that encrypting information is extremely important. Drake said that he won’t even speak to anyone about anything sensitive if they don’t encrypt all their communications. 

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