Improving Computer Security Technologies for
Journalist-Source and Other Sensitive Communications

Security & Privacy Research Lab
Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering
University of Washington


Advances in digital communication technologies, and their proliferation in recent decades, have removed many barriers to journalism and other professions. At the same time, however, security weaknesses in these technologies have put journalists and other users of technology increasingly at risk from powerful organizations -- reducing individual and organizational security and privacy, and curtailing freedoms of speech and of the press both nationally and internationally.

This project aims to (1) study the computer security needs, mental models, concerns, and use cases of user groups for whom sensitive communications are critical, such as journalists and lawyers, informing (2) the development of more effective, more usable secure communication technologies for these and other user groups.


Franziska Roesner

Ada Lerner, PhD Alumna
Mitali Palekar, Undergraduate Student
Eric Zeng, PhD Student

Kelly Caine, Clemson University
Susan McGregor, Columbia Journalism School


Confidante: Usable Encrypted Email
[ Website ] [ Source Code ]
Ada (Adam) Lerner, Eric Zeng, Mitali Palekar, and Franziska Roesner
Initial public release: April 28, 2017

Publications / Talks



This work is funded in part by the National Science Foundation under Awards CNS-1463968 and CNS-1513575.