In this post, Writers Write examines better security for writers & journalists.
Writing, resources, and research can be worth more before they are published. A writer or journalist has to increase their security by default, just the term ‘writer’ means that you might interest someone else.
Excellent journalism isn’t all good writing. It’s also about the security you can offer your sources and clients.
In this post, we unpack the best tips for better security.
Security For Writers
- Working Offline
Sensitive work is best kept offline, where things are always safe from third-parties or hacks. With no internet connection, there’s no way in. Remember to disable all forms of Bluetooth, too.
There’s much less risk this way.
If your files have to move, use flash drives (or move to a safe, temporary connection).
Tip: Research doesn’t have to be on the same device (or drive) as everything else. Connect devices safely, but disconnect your main writing system.
- Waste Their Time
Surveillance isn’t free.
Writers who think they are being watched, might panic at first. Don’t: smart writers waste as much (of their) time possible, and can provide hours of useless resources for any nefarious people.
Eventually, their budget runs out. If it doesn’t, you’ll know more about the size of their pocket.
Tip: Habits are dangerous. Are you at the same place for coffee every day at five o’clock, for two hours? Change often. Almost all criminals will seize opportunity in routine.
- VPNS Are Valuable
A VPN (or Virtual Private Network) obscures internet access data. These days, VPN use is almost everywhere. Don’t be one writer caught without basic security measures.
Use a VPN, and your exact place is harder to pinpoint.
A VPN has to be activated, usually turned off-and-on, as you use it. Get used to checking if your VPN works first.
Tip: Choose a recommended VPN, like Surfshark. Cheap, unverified software is dangerous to everyone.
- Incoming Files
Writers open files often, usually from clients and sources. A writer does it so often that it’s a habit, something you just do through the day. Do you see the danger in this yet?
Google (and other providers) automatically scan incoming files, but can still err. Always scan incoming files, even ones from someone you know.
Tip: Keep a USB for attachments, and scan them away from your computer. Transfer them only once they are guaranteed virus-free.
- The Multiple Backup
It’s important to backup. It’s more important to backup twice. All important files should be saved, and kept in one more place for good measure.
This seems almost obsessive, but you will know why if you ever lose a file twice.
Recovery works well, but won’t always work.
Artist Skrillex reportedly lost an entire album on USB.
Imagine if it were the second book (from a three-book contract).
Tip: Keep an original, but also two others. A cloud backup, and a USB copy somewhere very safe.
- Autorecovery For Outages
Power outages are a global issue. Inconvenient, but it can also lose whole files. When 200+ pages gets lost in the Matrix, it’s never fun.
1. Make sure there’s autorecovery on your word processor. OpenOffice and Microsoft will do this with little loss. Many others will not. Autorecovery is less effective on USB files, than on direct hard-drives.
Work online, via cloud services like Google Docs or Dropbox. Until last saved, files are intact.
3. Laptops with batteries. While batteries run out, you can save and backup first.
Tip: Autorecovery can’t protect you against hardware failure, or software attacks. Use only for emergency power outages. Save often.
7. File Recovery
Older USB storage can fail, and sometimes you just mess up. Manual file recovery uses mostly software to ‘search’ file sectors, finding deleted files and their fragmented parts.
A ‘deep search’ finds older, harder to seek files.
Tip: If you can recover files, others can too. Wipe old drives for good. Use Roadkill’s Disk Wipe, DBAN, or KillDisk. Advanced users only (!), data loss is the point.
- Talk With Telegram
The IM app that comes with your phone, that’s never the safe way. Disable it, and download an alternative (which can, often, direct SMSes there too). Telegram is one, but others exist too.
Secure IM apps never store conversations, and can send messages without location. Advanced apps can destroy messages or files after they are sent.
Tip: Get your IM app (and others) only from official web-stores. Don’t download from other sites, it’s a common way in for spyware.
The Last Word
We hope that you learned more about writers’ security from this post.
By Alex J. Coyne. Alex is a writer, proofreader, and regular card player. His features about cards, bridge, and card playing have appeared in Great Bridge Links, Gifts for Card Players, Bridge Canada Magazine, and Caribbean Compass. Get in touch at alexcoyneofficial.com.
If you enjoyed this, read other posts by Alex:
- Urban Legends For Writers
- 8 Common Phrases We Actually Got From Shakespeare
- Here Be Dragons – In Fiction
- Bad Business: 9 Words & Phrases To Avoid
- Dissecting Zombies in Fiction Writing
- Dirty Journalism: How Journalists Can Keep Research Legal
- How Writers Can Research Settings Remotely
- The Use Of Real People As Characters In Fiction
- 8 Proofreading Tricks (That Save Valuable Time)
- 7 Techniques Of The Faustian Story