When I first started writing about encryption, few people knew, few people cared, and very few people understood what I was talking and writing about. I worked tirelessly to get the journalistic community to adapt to new encryption technology like “Silent Circle” way before Edward Snowden, NSA, Prism, and the many other major revelations had occurred.
In fact I am proud of this blog post from 2012 My blog about encryption from 2012 .It turns out that Private Sky encryption was so far ahead of it’s time that the British government LITERALLY shut it down http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/gchq-forced-privatesky-secure-email-service-offline-529392. I remember speaking to a source and saying “see, I told you it was darn good encryption.” As for Silent Circle, I got an exclusive interview with co-founder Mike Janke https://www.knoxfocus.com/2012/10/five-questions-with-silent-circle/In fact, the company was so pleased with my reporting they send me a personally autographed original pamphlet

"Silent Circle in the early days."

I was way ahead of my time. Silent Circle was very appreciative of my written work.

So enough about the past. What is happening now in the world of journalism and encryption today, tomorrow, and in the future? The answer. On the advanced technology front we have cutting edge encrypted message sending. We still have old fashion ‘brush passes.’ Also CB radios are becoming popular again to be used for communication.,/p>

Let’s start off with the “brush path.” Basically, that is when you walk by someone and pass them a note with encryption keys. This is the safest way to transfer keys. Simply write down the codes on a piece of paper and quickly hand off the paper to your contacts. If you want to make the “brush pass” more clandestine with your source use a CB radio. Let me give you a perfect example. You want to meet a contact in secret. Let’s say downtown or in South Knoxville. You both have CB radios. You contact each other on a random channel and then decide right then where you are going to meet. At a restaurant, Parking garage, or wherever. For added security you might meet out in Farragut or out east. Once you meet up, you swap the encryption keys.

You could meet in a parking garage if you want to be old school. A throw back to the Watergate era of investigative journalism.

So what are the tools of the trade now used by journalists? Sadly, many journalists use free services for their encryption or social communication which also transmits sensitive data. Here is the problem with that. Phil Zimmermann the encryption expert who founded Pretty Good Privacy and Silent Circle (both legendary encryption programs) said it best.” If you are not buying a product, you are the product!” So true! Information is the new gold, oil, currency, and is of major value. If you are not paying to protect your data, then someone is probably selling your data. That is the reason we have billion dollar companies giving products away for free. The ultimate product they are giving away is your information! Let me give you a perfect example. Recently a “free encryption app” went on the Google apps store. So, it looks amazing! Then I read the privacy policy. “XXXXX collects non-personally-identifying information of the sort that web browsers and servers typically make available, such as the browser type, language preference, referring site, and the date and time of each visitor request.” The privacy policy ends by writing “XXXXX may change its Privacy Policy from time to time, and at XXXXX sole discretion.”

In the end, you want a strong encryption company. I am still a huge fan of Silent Circle. As their research and development team grows, so does their ability to come out with new cutting edge technology. The new http://www.blackphone.ch/ will revolutionize the industry. However, do not confuse this device with the “Boeing secret Black Phone” . Will the Silent Circle phone be NSA proof? Probably not. However quantum encryption continues to grow and is getting closer and closer to real use in cellphones and other devices read here for more on quantum computing . In my opinion that is possibly our best hope for ultimate secure conversations.

However, in this new era of encryption, the “encrypto war” rages on. A quick look at some of the current job offers for cryptologists clearly highlights the global worldwide demand for the brilliant cryptologists.

Journalists now have many options to choose from. The options range from free encryption products to very expensive products created for high level corporate CEO’s that can afford the extra amount of money for high grade encryption products with direct hardware modification. However, for journalists communicating with fellow members in their newsroom, Silent Circle still appears to be the best overall avenue. With shrinking advertising revenue the product creates a fine balance between the needs of privacy and the price it costs.

For sending emails I use https://encipher.it It has a lot of great features built into it.  It’s structure, ease, key security features appears to be  exactly what a journalist wants and needs. Plus this is a company that has been around a while.

In conclusion we now have a new bread of journalists being created in real time. I call them “The Titanium Division.” They divide themselves from the masses of journalists that just don’t care or just don’t understand encryption. These are the journalists that can’t wait to turn on The Back Channel on Iheartradio. These are the journalists that wake up every morning and the first thing they read is The Intercept (a really professional website in my opinion) and have an alert set for updates. Now more then ever, the journalist society must stay updated by organizations such as the https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/blog/2014/03/renowned-technologists-journalists-join-freedom-press-foundation-technical-advisory, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other notable organizations. In essence, the information that a journalist transmits must be as secured as a “titanium locker.” While the world of encryption is not there yet…the use of encryption tools today will lead to a stronger encrypted world tomorrow.

Dan Andrews reporting…
Follow me on Twitter @knoxcounty

Please note. I am not an encryption expert. While I use and made mention of certain encryption products, I have no way of knowing their full strength either good or bad. I make no claims or endorsement of any product or organization listed. Encryption is an ever changing world and while I believe strongly in certain products I cannot guarantee anything.