Yet while there are strategies that individual journalists can use to help protect their communications, many experts believe that there is an essential role for institutions to play as well.

“There needs to be a push in the newsroom to do really good trainings, so it’s not just self help,” says Verclas. “Newsrooms have a moral and ethical obligation to invest in this kind of stuff in a very professional, high quality way.”

Focusing only on security isn’t sufficient, says Rebecca MacKinnon, cofounder of Global Voices and author of Consent of the Networked.

“The Patriot Act needs to be reformed, FISA needs to be reformed, ECPA (the Electronic Communications Privacy Act) needs to be reformed,” MacKinnon says. “We need a legal system that actually holds the government accountable.”

In the meantime, she says, “You can start acting like you’re a journalist in China.”

Looking for training and resources to improve your own digital security? Global Journalist Security is offering two special classes on Digital Safety for National Security Reporters in July 2013 in Washington, DC.

Disclosure: CJR has received funding from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to cover intellectual-property issues, but the organization has no influence on the content.

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Susan McGregor is an Assistant Professor at Columbia School of Journalism with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. In 2011, she was named as a winner in the Gerald Loeb Awards’ “Online Enterprise” category for her work on the Wall Street Journal’s “What They Know” series.