Last updated
SecureDrop logo.svg
Screenshot from SecureDrop Source view.png
Screenshot from the SecureDrop Source interface.
Original author(s)
Developer(s) Freedom of the Press Foundation
Initial release15 October 2013;7 years ago (2013-10-15)
Stable release
1.6.0 [1] / 7 October 2020;6 months ago (2020-10-07)
Repository OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Written in Python
Operating system Linux
Type Secure communication
License GNU Affero General Public License, version 3
Website Tor: sdolvtfhatvsysc...6fzvyd.onion [2]

SecureDrop is a free software platform for secure communication between journalists and sources (whistleblowers). [3] It was originally designed and developed by Aaron Swartz and Kevin Poulsen under the name DeadDrop. [4] [5] James Dolan also co-created the software. [6]



After Aaron Swartz's death, the first instance of the platform was launched under the name Strongbox by staff at The New Yorker on 15 May 2013. [7] The Freedom of the Press Foundation took over development of DeadDrop under the name SecureDrop, and has since assisted with its installation at several news organizations, including ProPublica, The Guardian , The Intercept , and The Washington Post . [8] [9] [10]


SecureDrop uses the anonymity network Tor to facilitate communication between whistleblowers, journalists, and news organizations. SecureDrop sites are therefore only accessible as onion services in the Tor network. After a user visits a SecureDrop website, they are given a randomly generated code name. [7] This code name is used to send information to a particular author or editor via uploading. Investigative journalists can contact the whistleblower via SecureDrop messaging. Therefore, the whistleblower must take note of their random code name. [4]

The system utilizes private, segregated servers that are in the possession of the news organization. Journalists use two USB flash drives and two personal computers to access SecureDrop data. [4] [7] The first personal computer accesses SecureDrop via the Tor network, and the journalist uses the first flash drive to download encrypted data from the secure drop server. The second personal computer does not connect to the Internet, and is wiped during each reboot. [4] [7] The second flash drive contains a decryption code. The first and second flash drives are inserted into the second personal computer, and the material becomes available to the journalist. The personal computer is shut down after each use. [4]

Freedom of the Press Foundation has stated it will have the SecureDrop code and security environment audited by an independent third party before every major version release and then publish the results. [11] The first audit was conducted by University of Washington security researchers and Bruce Schneier. [12] The second audit was conducted by Cure53, a German security firm. [11]

SecureDrop suggests sources disabling JavaScript to protect anonymity. [13]

Prominent organizations using SecureDrop

The Freedom of the Press Foundation now maintains an official directory of SecureDrop instances. This is a partial list of instances at prominent news organizations. [14]

Name of organizationImplementation date
The New Yorker [2] [4] 15 May 2013
Forbes [2] [15] [16] [17] 29 Oct 2013
Bivol [2] [18] 30 Oct 2013
ProPublica [2] [19] [20] 27 Jan 2014
The Intercept [2] [21] 10 Feb 2014
San Francisco Bay Guardian [2] [22] 18 Feb 2014
The Washington Post [2] [23] 5 Jun 2014
The Guardian [2] [3] 6 Jun 2014
The Globe and Mail [2] [24] 4 Mar 2015
Radio-Canada20 Jan 2016
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation [2] [25] 29 Jan 2016
Associated Press 18 Oct 2016
The New York Times [2] [26] 15 Dec 2016
BuzzFeed News 21 Dec 2016
USA Today [2] [27] 22 Feb 2017
Bloomberg News Unknown
The Wall Street Journal Unknown
Aftenposten Unknown
Disclose [28] Unknown
Australian Broadcasting Corporation [29] 28 Nov 2019


See also

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  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 "The Official SecureDrop Directory". Freedom of the Press Foundation. Retrieved January 29, 2017.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. 1 2 Ball, James (5 Jun 2014). "Guardian launches SecureDrop system for whistleblowers to share files". The Guardian .
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Kassner, Michael (20 May 2013). "Aaron Swartz legacy lives on with New Yorker's Strongbox: How it works". TechRepublic . Retrieved 20 May 2013.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. Poulsen, Kevin (14 May 2013). "Strongbox and Aaron Swartz". The New Yorker .
  6. Timm, Trevor (9 January 2018). "A tribute to James Dolan, co-creator of SecureDrop, who has tragically passed away at age 36". Freedom of the Press Foundation .
  7. 1 2 3 4 Davidson, Amy (15 May 2013). "Introducing Strongbox". The New Yorker . Retrieved 20 May 2013.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. "Strongbox". The New Yorker. Retrieved 15 November 2013.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. Biryukov, Alex; Pustogarov, Ivan; Thill, Fabrice; Weinmann, Ralf-Philipp (2013). "Content and popularity analysis of Tor hidden services". arXiv: 1308.6768 [cs.CR].
  10. Davidson, Amy (15 May 2013). "Introducing Strongbox". The New Yorker. Retrieved 26 December 2013.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. 1 2 Timm, Trevor (20 January 2014). "SecureDrop Undergoes Second Security Audit". Freedom of the Press Foundation. Retrieved 13 July 2014.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. Czeskis, Alexei; Mah, David; Sandoval, Omar; Smith, Ian; Koscher, Karl; Appelbaum, Jacob; Kohno, Tadayoshi; Schneier, Bruce. "DeadDrop/StrongBox Security Assessment" (PDF). University of Washington Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Retrieved 13 July 2014.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. Source Guide SecureDrop
  14. ssteele (6 December 2016). "Tor at the Heart: SecureDrop". Tor Blog.
  15. Kirchner, Lauren. "When sources remain anonymous". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 28 January 2014.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. Timm, Trevor. "Forbes Launches First Updated Version of SecureDrop Called SafeSource". Freedom of the Press Foundation. Retrieved 28 January 2014.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. Greenberg, Andy. "Introducing SafeSource, A New Way To Send Forbes Anonymous Tips And Documents". Forbes. Retrieved 28 January 2014.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. Chavkin, Sasha. "Initiatives seek to protect anonymity of leakers". The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Retrieved 28 January 2014.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. Tigas, Mike. "How to Send Us Files More Securely". ProPublica. Retrieved 28 January 2014.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. Timm, Trevor. "ProPublica Launches New Version of SecureDrop". The Freedom of the Press Foundation. Retrieved 28 January 2014.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. "How to Securely Contact The Intercept". The Intercept. Retrieved 9 February 2014.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  22. Bowe, Rebecca (18 February 2014). "Introducing BayLeaks". San Francisco Bay Guardian . Retrieved 20 February 2014.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
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  24. "The Globe adopts encrypted technology in effort to protect whistle-blowers". The Globe and Mail . 4 March 2015.
  25. "CBC adopts SecureDrop to allow for anonymous leaks". 29 January 2016.
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  27. "USA TODAY launches secure whistle-blower site". 22 February 2017.
  29. "ABC launches SecureDrop for whistleblowers to securely and anonymously contact journalists". 28 November 2019.
  30. Sullivan, John (25 March 2017). "SecureDrop and Alexandre Oliva are 2016 Free Software Awards winners" (Press Release). Free Software Foundation .