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Encryption

SecureDrop

☀☀☀☀ What does any dishonest public official fear? Whistleblowers; which is exactly what SecureDrop specializes in. SecureDrop allows you to anonymously upload documents for journalists to use. Guides for journalists and sources show how SecureDrop allows sources to feel secure when giving journalists information, an act that may hurt their careers. The site also allows for donations to maintain the tool. SecureDrop is great because it eliminates the uncomfortable positions sources are put in when revealing information the public needs to know. Ben Jacobs

Photo by MoneyBlogNewz, via Flickr.

DUO

☀☀☀☀ DUO is here to secure access to your accounts. It relies on two-factor authentication, but unlike other security apps, it only needs a single tap on your smartphone to authenticate. You can configure the app to work with any application on any device, yet it can be a little tricky. The free version is geared toward personal use. Businesses will pay to use it to its full extent. The only downside: authenticating every single sign in is tedious. — Cat Supawit

McAfee Mobile Security

☀☀☀ McAfee Mobile Security is a free app offered on the iPhone and Android. It functions as a security vault (with a six-digit passcode) for your photos, videos, contacts and files. It also can track your device. The app has received mostly good reviews on Amazon. The free app has limits, though, and annual subscriptions for the premium service start at $29.99. Still, the free version could be used by journalists who want to secure story or source information. Julia Bashaw

Webroot

☀☀☀☀ Identity theft and malware are dangers of the mobile world. Webroot scans any website or application for threats, which ensures your digital safety as a journalist. Webroot tested out almost identical to other antivirus protection, in some cases being cheaper than similar options at a subscription price of $18.99. It runs in the background (my favorite part). It’s available in the Google Play store and the App store. Journalists need security on the internet to protect themselves and their sources, and Webroot is a cost-effective and viable option. Ben Jacobs

Signal

☀☀☀☀ Fear of lack of privacy should never stop good journalism. Privacy is never an issue with Open Whisper Systems. The tool, called Signal in the app stores, encrypts both text messages and phone calls — so long as you use their app (at Google Play and the App Store).  Edward Snowden (former National Security Agency contractor) and Laura Poitras (noted filmmaker and journalist) are well-known users. With their backing, any journalist should feel comfortable using this tool to communicate with sources privately. Ben Jacobs

☀☀☀☀ Signal is touted as the best free encryption app, keeping your conversations safe from prying eyes. It’s bare-bones: You can send messages, photos and videos in-app, or send an SMS text. But it lacks features of Line and other advanced (yet unsecured) chat apps, such as PDF and other file transfering.  Signal is a solid option for journalists working on sensitive articles (Edward Snowden endorses it). For most of your work, you won’t need this app, but it’s worth having on retainer for when you do. Chris McCrory

F-Secure Freedome VPN

☀☀☀☀ F-Secure Freedome VPN promises “private, untracked, and anonymous” browsing. It protects you from tracking attempts, harmful sites, internet traffic and more. Users can also create a fake location for themselves to ensure further safety. The app costs $5.99 a month after a 5-day free trial, reasonable compared to other Virtual Private Networks. It tracks the sites that  are trying to track you and shows many harmful sites have been blocked. Try it, and decide if it’s worth the price. Journalists could use this app to protect their browsing from prying eyes during investigative reports. — Kyle Dowd

Tob

☀☀☀ Quick. Easy. Safe. Tob is a search-engine using Tor, a software that protects your identity. (See “Five Reasons to Encrypt Your Data.”) Use Tob to search the web and no one will know it’s you.  Downsides: Tob ignores YouTube videos and is slightly slower than the better search engines. Journalists, especially those working on stories about cyberspying or cyberwar, should consider getting encryption software. Tob, which costs nothing and is ad-free, can be found in the App Store. — Olivia Davila

Lookout

☀☀☀☀ Lookout offers comprehensive mobile security. It primarily protects phones from malicious software, but also locates missing devices via an alarm and text system. Working with Apple or Android phones, Lookout backs up your contacts and monitors suspicious phone activity. The paid version ($2.99/month or $29.99/year) seems worthy of its cost: it includes photo security and Theft Alert emails even when a SIM card is removed. Journalists with their lives (and their work) in their phones can protect themselves against everything from losing their phone at a big news event to blocking cyberattacks with this app. — Emily Taylor

Norton Mobile Security: Lost Phone Finder

☀☀ Norton Mobile Security: Lost Phone Finder, like Apple’s “Find my iPhone,” can help locate mobile devices.  Click, and find your device when it sounds an alarm. Your contacts are backed up, shared across all your devices and can be viewed through Norton’s website. Journalists certainly have the need to find missing phones and backup contacts. You get the same malware protection Norton provides elsewhere. The downside: to use this “free” app you need a Norton Mobile Security subscription (at least $39.99 per year). As a standalone app, in my opinion it is not worth the download. — Scotty Bara

The Onion Browser

☀☀ The Onion Browser is an app that lets you browse the internet using a Tor to protect your privacy. After downloading the app, I had to inform myself what using a Tor software means and why people use it. What I found out is that it makes it more difficult for your search history to be tracked back to you. An issue that I found was that the app claims that there are no ads when in fact there were. Also, the app can be slow at times. If you exit out of the app and go back to it after a few minutes, you’ll need to restart it. Overall, the app does what it is meant to. — Ashley Altmann