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[liberationtech] WorkiLeaks: How to Be a Workplace Leaker Without Getting Caught

David Johnson david at
Thu Apr 12 18:39:49 PDT 2012

WorkiLeaks: How to Be a Workplace Leaker Without Getting Caught

   - By Ryan Singel <>
   - Email Author <ryan at>
   - April 12, 2012 |
   - 8:06 pm |
   - Categories: privacy<>
   , Surveillance <>



*Photo: loop_oh<>

On Tuesday, Gawker announced gleefully that it had placed a mole inside Fox
News Channel — an anonymous Fox employee who was feeding the news
organization’s inner secrets to the website viadispatches in a weekly new
column <>.

The mole’s bitterness toward his employer knew no bounds, as he dished the
dirt on Fox’s toilets<>
new kind of leak, for sure) and slipped Gawker never-before-seen inane
video footage of Mitt Romney and Sean Hannity bantering about horse riding
prior to the taping of an interview for the “Hannity Vegas Forum” in
February. (What, you thought an inside mole at a news station would leak
something actually newsworthy?)

The mole’s identity wasn’t hidden for long. A day later, Fox News told
Mediaite that it had unmasked the leaker and was consulting with lawyers
about legal options against the rogue employee. The same day, Fox outed and
ousted the mole, who later identified himself in a Gawker post as Joe
an associate producer for *The O’Reilly Factor*.

Like the Craigslist
him, it was the digital trail that gave Joe away.

“They knew that someone, using my computer login, had accessed the sources
for two videos that ended up on Gawker over the past few weeks,” Muto
writes after his unmasking. “They couldn’t prove it entirely, but I was
pretty much the only suspect.”

In the interest of protecting future moles and whistleblowers, we’ve
assembled a list of Dos and Don’ts for leaking safely:

   - Don’t use your work computer or work phone to communicate with the
   recipient of your leaks.
   - Give yourself a code name. It won’t help protect you, but it’ll make
   you feel cool.
   - Don’t e-mail documents you want to leak to your private account. Print
   them out or take a picture of the document displayed on your computer
   screen with your personal phone.
   - Don’t give away personal details that are identifying if you want to
   remain anonymous — like calling yourself the “only liberal working at Fox
   - Be aware that the document you plan to leak could be seeded with
   information designed to catch a leaker. One parent company we know (which
   shall remain nameless) used to send slightly different versions of the same
   leakworthy document to different departments to hone in on the leaker once
   they were published.
   - Documents you find lying around at the printer or fax machine are far
   easier to leak anonymously than digital ones.
   - Don’t leak information from inside a media organization owned by
   Rupert Murdoch, or any other company that employs hackers. They have ways
   of hearing you talk.
   - Make sure the document you want to release has been shared widely
   enough so that the digital trail linking you to it won’t incriminate you
   the way that accessing the video busted Gawker’s leaker.
   - Handing over documents to a recipient in person is almost always
   better than e-mailing them.
   - Better yet, don’t give the recipient a document at all; read it over
   the phone. It’s easier to be a source of *information*, rather than a
   leaker of documents. Computers leave trails — always.
   - If you must communicate with the recipient electronically, use a
   throwaway e-mail account, preferably on a computer you don’t own. Don’t use
   your real name and details to register the account, and use an open Wi-Fi
   connection at a cafe to send your communication. Realize that some
   employers are so notoriously anti-leak that they will fire you for not
   letting them examine your personal e-mail accounts or devices.
   - Don’t tell anyone — except your priest, rabbi or imam — that you’re
   the source. Especially don’t confide your crime to a hacker you met online.
   - Don’t read or talk about the leaked story at work — UNLESS someone
   sends it to you.
   - Don’t look paranoid or guilty. No one knows what you did. Or probably
   no one knows.
   - Only leak to respected news outlets like, say, Wired. Getting fired
   for leaking to Gawker? That way lies only ridicule and shame, and perhaps
   an unpaid internship under the slave control of Nick Denton.

*Additional writing by Kim Zetter. Hat tip to Bill Wasik for the idea and
@BostonReview for the WorkiLeaks title.*

David V. Johnson
Web Editor
Boston Review

Mailing Address:
San Francisco Writers' Grotto
490 2nd Street, 2nd Fl.
San Francisco, CA 94107

Cell: (917)903-3706
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