Freedom of the Press Foundation Takes On Development of “Dangerzone”

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Promoting press freedom in the 21st century

Making electronic documents safer to work with

Freedom of the Press Foundation is now the official home of Dangerzone, an open source tool developed by Micah Lee at First Look Media to make it safer for journalists to work with electronic documents sent to them by sources.

Hackers who target individual journalists or entire newsrooms often try to exploit security bugs in apps used to open common file types like PDFs or Word documents. What looks like a promising news tip may in fact be a carefully orchestrated attack. Dangerzone takes documents in many formats and converts them to safe PDF files.

“It’s almost like printing the document and then scanning it back in again,” said Lee. What remains is the same content displayed on your screen — nothing less and, crucially, nothing more.

Dangerzone takes potentially dangerous PDFs, office documents, or images and converts them to safe PDFs.

Lee, who served on FPF’s board of directors until last year, will continue to be the project’s lead developer. As part of stewarding development of the project, FPF is hiring a part-time developer to make long-awaited improvements, such as batch processing documents. Based on feedback from journalists and other newsroom staff, FPF will make further investments in the project.

With SecureDrop, FPF already manages the development of an open source whistleblower submission platform. Trevor Timm, FPF’s executive director, said the continued development and application of Dangerzone is the next logical step in defending public-interest journalism. “What happens after you receive a document? That’s where Dangerzone comes in. We’re honored to play a role in improving it, to protect journalists and sources alike,” Timm said.

You can download Dangerzone at