Digital information and communications security

A guide to help potential contributors develop their skills.

If you are considering contributing to Exeter Observer please see our contributors guide.

More guides:

If you want to reduce the likelihood of anyone accessing your digital information or monitoring or intercepting your communications, there are steps you can take to increase your security.

These notes introduce some techniques and tools for those using common operating systems. Others are available, some of which are listed in the advanced section.

A basic approach

  1. No such thing as perfect security
  2. Understand your situation cf. threat model
  3. Think weakest link cf. end to end encryption
  4. Keep it simple
  5. Keep it free? cf. open source software
  6. Know who to trust
  7. Update!

Guides

Device security

Communications security

Email

Mozilla Thunderbird is a free and open source email client that supports OpenPGP encryption by default.

K-9 Mail is a free and open source email client for Android that supports PGP encryption via the OpenKeychain add-on. Both are available via F-Droid, an open source software repository.

It is important to note that PGP encryption doesn’t secure the sender and receiver information that are necessary for email to work, or the subject line. Using a generic subject line helps address this latter issue.

Several webmail providers are also available which offer more privacy-focussed services.

cf. key verification

  • Webmail+

    • Protonmail - Switzerland, Android/iOS apps, automagical encryption to other Protonmail accounts, freemium
    • Tutanota - Germany, green data centres, automagical encryption to other Tutanota accounts, freemium
    • Runbox - Norway, hydro data centre, workers co-operative, multiple domains/aliases
    • Autistici - Italy, autonomous anti-capitalist collective, account on request
    • Riseup - US, autonomous anti-capitalist collective, IMAP/XMPP/VPN services, account by invitation
    • Fastmail - Austrian company with US data centres, see security info, free trail only

Instant messaging inc. audio/video

Signal is end-to-end encrypted, available for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac and Linux and is open source software, which means its code can be audited by privacy experts to confirm its authenticity, among other things. It can be also be used to make secure voice (and video) calls, as can Jitsi.

Teams

Network security

cf. Panopticlick

cf. 2FA, Fido alliance

  • Firewalls (incoming & outgoing)

Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an effective way of preventing websites you visit and email systems you use recording your IP address (akin to an internet postcode) and using it to identify your physical location. It can also help prevent your internet service provider monitoring your online activity.

Using Tor Browser is another effective way of defending yourself against tracking and surveillance. Using TAILS (see advanced secion below) is a another way of routing your internet connection via the Tor network from almost any computer and Orbot supports using Tor on Android.

cf. Guardian Project

cf. LineageOS

More advanced security

cf. EU Google Personal Information Removal Request Form

Exeter Observer blog

An open letter to all members of the Exeter Observer team

The situation is changing quickly. The electoral commission have proposed the cancellation of the May local elections, several universities are moving to online-only teaching and it seems likely that there will be a wave of event cancellation announcements early next week.

Exeter Observer logo

Free two day news writing seminar on 14 & 21 March

Want to help hold wealth, power and influence to account in Exeter & East Devon? Get involved in a new independent public interest community journalism project!

Exeter Observer logo

Next community journalism course begins 22 February 2020

Want to help hold wealth, power and influence to account in Exeter & East Devon? Get involved in a new independent public interest community journalism project!

Independent Community News Network logo

Exeter Observer joins Independent Community News Network

Exeter Observer's application to join the ICNN has been successful, connecting us to a network of more than a hundred similar projects across the UK.

BBC Local News Partnerships logo

Exeter Observer joins BBC Local News Partnerships

Exeter Observer's application to join the BBC Local News Partnerships has been successful, granting access to the BBC News Hub and Shared Data Unit and the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

IMPRESS logo

Exeter Observer agrees regulatory framework with IMPRESS

Exeter Observer is now regulated by IMPRESS, the only Leveson-compliant PRP-recognised independent UK press monitor.

Exeter Observer blog

An open letter to all members of the Exeter Observer team

Exeter Observer logo

Free two day news writing seminar on 14 & 21 March

Exeter Observer logo

Next community journalism course begins 22 February 2020

Independent Community News Network logo

Exeter Observer joins Independent Community News Network

BBC Local News Partnerships logo

Exeter Observer joins BBC Local News Partnerships

IMPRESS logo

Exeter Observer agrees regulatory framework with IMPRESS

Recent stories
Exeter City Council offices on Paris Street

Analysis  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Council pushes back on Liveable Exeter Place Board scrutiny following membership change

Exeter City Council has responded to an enquiry about disproportionate Church of England representation on the Liveable Exeter Place Board by accusing Exeter Observer of promoting a "partisan narrative" and claiming our public interest reporting "bears no resemblance to fact".

Devon County Council local authority pension fund fossil fuel investment bar chart

News  ⁄  Climate & environment

Report places Devon County Council among UK's top local authority fossil fuel investors

£157 million of Devon Local Government Pension Scheme is invested in companies including Royal Dutch Shell, BP, BHP, Anglo American and ExxonMobil despite local authority climate emergency declarations and carbon reduction commitments.

Exeter polling station

News  ⁄  Democracy & governance

May local elections to go ahead despite COVID-19 challenges

Ban on doorstep canvassing and door to door leaflet distribution likely to favour the two major parties on 6 May as postal and proxy voting encouraged in Exeter City Council, Devon County Council and Devon & Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner elections.

Illustration showing how the new building will look when completed

News  ⁄  Economy & enterprise

Exeter Science Park STEMM "grow-out building" construction begins

A new specialist centre for fast-growth Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths & Medicine businesses will be completed by November 2021.

Exeter energy recovery facility

News  ⁄  Climate & environment

District heating network planned for new South West Exeter development

Local councils are investing up to £7.3 million in a £23 million project to supply a development of 2500 homes with heat from Marsh Barton waste incinerator.

Climate change mitigation challenges infographic

News  ⁄  Climate & environment

University research consortium launches "Accelerate to Net Zero" project

The GW4 Alliance of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter universities has launched a collaborative project aimed at accelerating decarbonisation across South West England and Wales.


Support Exeter Observer