Koji Yamamoto

How to Securely Contact Motherboard

Here are all the ways you can safely and anonymously send us news tips and documents.

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Nov 21 2017, 3:30pm

Koji Yamamoto

Do you have a tip you think we should chase? Please reach out! If you do not require anonymity or encryption, you can reach out to us via traditional methods: We are available via email at editor@motherboard.tv. For individual emails and Twitter, check out our About Motherboard page.

Do you have a sensitive document that you believe should be published? Do you have information that needs to get out? If you do require anonymity or encryption, read on:

Here at Motherboard we offer several ways for you to send us information securely and anonymously. We treat the security and confidentiality of our sources as a top priority, so we want to make sure you know what channel is best to protect yourself, and how to use it correctly.

Whether you have details on a spying program at a Silicon Valley company, a tip on how doctors are scamming the system, an internal government agency memo that people should know about, a copy of an anti-diversity memo penned by an employee at a giant tech company, or anything else you think we should know, you should get in touch with us.

Our main goal is to produce well-reported, contextualised, and in-depth journalism in the public interest.

Here are the most secure ways you can send us a tip or a document.


SecureDrop

Motherboard and VICE offer an anonymous whistleblower submission system known as SecureDrop. This system offers great security and anonymity if used correctly, but it does require you to follow its instructions very carefully.

Our SecureDrop can only be accessed through the Tor network, which allows you to surf the web without revealing your true location, IP address, or other information that could potentially reveal your identity. Your communications will be encrypted and using this system offers a higher degree of security over regular email.

Although using SecureDrop provides a much higher degree of security over regular digital communications, no system or technology can provide perfect security. You should be aware of other risks: If your computer has malware on it or you’re being recorded by CCTV, your anonymity could be compromised.

When using SecureDrop, we recommend using a public Wi-Fi network, like at a cafe or library, instead of a frequently used network like your home or office. Tor protects your identity from the sites you visit, but a powerful adversary might be able to correlate the timing of the source's home usage of Tor, plus the timing of the leak. So if you use your home or work internet connection, you might reveal clues that you are a whistleblower or leaker. Never under any circumstances use your work computer, or a personal computer connected to your work network, to access SecureDrop.

Here’s how to use SecureDrop.

  • Download and install the Tor Browser Bundle from https://www.torproject.org. This will allow you to visit our SecureDrop page, which operates as a Tor "Onion Service" and is not accessible via standard internet browsers.
  • To access our SecureDrop page, open the Tor Browser and type this into the address bar: e3v3x57ykz25uvij.onion
  • Follow the instructions to send us information. You will be given a codename that you can use to log back in and check for responses in the future if you want to maintain contact.
  • Do not discuss or make any mention of being a whistleblower, Tor, or SecureDrop to anyone.
  • If you want to receive a reply or continue communicating with us, log back in and see if you have any new messages. Please note: SecureDrop is a slower form of communication than other methods, so you may not receive a message straight away.

Here’s an even more detailed guide on how to use SecureDrop as a source.

For added protection, you can also use the Tor Browser through Tails, a special operating system designed to maximize your anonymity and privacy.


Postal Mail

While it may sound old-fashioned, using postal mail is still one of the safest, most anonymous ways to send letters, documents or even thumb drives.

If you choose to send us postal mail, please do not include a return address and mail your letter in an envelope from a sidewalk mailbox, ideally on a corner you usually don’t go to often. Do not use a post office and don’t take your phone with you. Send it to the following address:

Motherboard Tips
49 S 2nd St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Feel free to include the name of a specific editor or reporter you’d like to read your tip or documents.


Email

You can send us tips at editor@motherboard.tv. Be mindful that email is one of the least anonymous methods of communication. Don’t use your personal email if that’s what you’re worried about.

You can send us encrypted tips using the Motherboard PGP public key.

Our Fingerprint: AA6D 21BE 83B7 F0E6 ABAB AED3 D187 EB82 94D9 03F0

PGP, or Pretty Good Privacy, is an encryption software that allows you to encrypt the content of an email. Only you and we will be able to read the body of the email. But, other than the content, PGP will not encrypt or hide other information about the email, such as your email address, the subject line, the time you send it, and the IP address where you send it from.

PGP by itself is extremely secure, but it’s very hard to use. Follow this guides for Windows, Mac, and Linux.


Signal

Signal is a free and open source messaging app (iPhone, Android) that encrypts both phone calls and messages by default. Only you and the person you’re communicating with can read or listen in.

Signal only knows your phone number, the date when you registered the service, and when you were last active. That’s it. This means that even if the authorities ask Signal for information on a particular user, Signal won’t provide much at all. Finally, the app allows you to set messages to self-destruct after a certain amount of time, adding another layer of security in case you lose your phone or someone gets their hands on it.

Signal is both extremely easy to use and very secure. All you need to do is download it and start sending messages, just like iMessage or the default SMS app already on your phone.

DOWNLOAD | INSTRUCTIONS | SECURITY

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Remember that if you want to be truly anonymous in your correspondence with us you’ll have to use a phone number that’s not associated with your real identity. This means buying a SIM card with cash, and without providing an identification number. In most cases, this extreme step will likely not be necessary: please think about what steps you may need to take depending on what information you’d like to provide, and who you are trying to avoid detection from. For the majority of instances, using Signal on a personal phone (not a work-owned one) will work great.

Here’s a list of our editors and reporters who can be reached on Signal.