Freedom of the Press Foundation Launches Secure The News Initiative

The Freedom of the Press Foundation launched the “Secure the News” initiative which scans the major media and grades their use of encryption communications methods.

The Secure The News Initiative Scans Major Media

The Freedom of the press Foundation has launched a new initiative known as “Secure the News” which is designed to track and promote the use of the HTTPS protocol by the major news organizations sites. The project automatically reviews the online media and grades them based on their use of the protocol.

The main goal is to encourage the media webmasters to adopt the HTTPS encryption protocol as the default setting on as many pages as possible. The project has posted details about its grading methodology and policy on their site. In brief it gives a grading that uses the well-known numbering (0-100) and lettering grade (F to A+) systems. The rating depends of the HTTPS implementation – a low or no grade is given if HTTPS is used, and a good or excellent rating is given to the sites that enforce the HTTPS and follow good security practices.

Here is how Secure The News describes the importance of HTTPS:

HTTPS is a vital feature for any modern news site that protects the privacy and security of both its readers and journalists from a variety of malicious actors. HTTPS can also act an important anti-censorship tool against authoritarian regimes. Unfortunately, news organizations have been slow to implement HTTPS by default on their websites, so we hope Secure The News can help speed its adoption.

The project will support additional checks in the future which will include other security tests. Some of them include the following: checks for the support of out-of-date or insecure implementations of the SSL/TLS protocols, support for insecure ciphers, use of weak public key ciphers or insufficient key lengths and others.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that the majority of the big media sites do not have a good score. The most secure sites according to the project findings are The Intercept, The Guardian, TechCrunch and ProPublica. Many of the world famous media actually get the lowest score (F) as they have not implemented even of the basic principles that the project searches for.

The creators of Secure the News plan to open source the whole engine in the near future. Once this is done they will welcome outside contributors and will encourage other organizations to fork the project. One of the goals is to create a HTTPS deployment dashboard that can easily be integrated in various media and other sites.

For more detailed information you can visit their official site.

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Author : Martin Beltov

Martin graduated with a degree in Publishing from Sofia University. As a cyber security enthusiast he enjoys writing about the latest threats and mechanisms of intrusion.

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