Honest Appalachia, the newest leak platform to make headlines, has made the use of Tor a requirement. “It’s not optional,” says Garrett Robinson, who built the site. “If you try to use [Honest Appalachia] without Tor, it will just redirect you to a page with directions on how to use it.”
Launched on January 10th, the site is focused on West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina. Both Robinson and cofounder Jim Tobias live in the region and feel this rural area could especially benefit from more transparency. Robinson says the biggest challenge with this work is authenticating the documents, which is why they have modeled their site around handing submissions over to journalists rather than publishing themselves. “Journalists have a lot more experience dealing with this, so we want their help to analyze and authenticate these documents.” He says once they receive files, they will decrypt them and then go through the process of “cleaning” the file of any other identifying metadata before handing it off to journalists.
The code is open source. “A truly secure site will withstand attack,” says Robinson, and the tool can be easily replicated by running a script that installs about 80 percent of the software, leaving only the cryptography to be done manually. The hope is for others to use it to “support accountability and transparency in their communities,” but Robinson is quick to point out that Honest Appalachia doesn’t guarantee anything. “When you hear guarantees and promises in the security field, you should get concerned,” says Robinson. “You should always be reevaluating. Security is a process, not a product.”