The Citizen Lab is an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, Canada focusing on advanced research and development at the intersection of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), human rights, and global security. Learn more »

In Focus

Malware Attack Targeting Syrian ISIS Critics

This report describes a malware attack on a Syrian citizen media group critical of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Though we are unable to conclusively attribute the attack to ISIS or its supporters, a link to ISIS is plausible. The malware used in the attack differs substantially from campaigns linked to the Syrian regime, and the attack is against a group that is an active target of ISIS forces. In the interest of highlighting a developing threat, this post analyzes the attack and provides a list of Indicators of Compromise.

Privacy and security in cyberspace: Right of all or luxury of the few?

In an article published on openDemocracy.net, Citizen Lab Senior Legal Advisor Sarah McKune writes about the digital threats that civil society organizations (CSOs) face in carrying out their work, which undermine their privacy and compromise sensitive information. “To address this problem we must expand the terms and scope of the debate, exploring the link between the right to privacy and access to digital security more fully,” said McKune.

Repository of censored and sensitive Chinese keywords: 13 lists, 9,054 terms

Contained are links to a set of 9,054 sensitive Chinese keywords, which combine 13 existing lists. These keywords may be helpful to researchers who are searching for censored content in Chinese or testing for network interference.

Research News

མི་མང་གི་ཚོགས་སྡེ་ཁག་ལ་རྒྱུན་མཐུད་པའི་གློག་ཀླད་ཀྱི་དྲ་འབུའི་རྒོལ་རྡུང་འཕྲད་བཞིན་པ།

Summary of our report, entitled “Communities @ Risk: Targeted Digital Threats Against Civil Society, in Tibetan.”

Irene Poetranto’s op-ed on outdated Internet controls in Indonesia

Communications Officer / Researcher Irene Poetranto authored an op-ed in The Jakarta Post, urging for Indonesia’s new communications and information minister to end the country’s outdated Internet controls.

Schrodinger’s Cat Video and the Death of Clear-Text

This report provides a detailed analysis of two products sold for facilitating targeted surveillance known as network injection appliances. These products allow for the easy deployment of targeted surveillance implants and are being sold by commercial vendors to countries around the world. Compromising a target becomes as simple as waiting for the user to view unencrypted content on the Internet.

Information Controls during Thailand’s 2014 Coup

The May 2014 coup d’etat in Thailand was the 19th coup attempt in the country’s history. It stands out from previous coups due to the military junta’s focus on information controls. In this report we document the results of network measurements to determine how the Internet is currently being filtered in Thailand and discuss other forms of information control implemented in the coup’s aftermath.

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Lab News

Christopher Parsons on social media surveillance

Christopher Parsons spoke to the CBC regarding the Canadian government’s growing interest in the real-time contents of social media and to the Washington Post on privacy concerns with Uber’s rider database.

Morgan Marquis-Boire featured in New Zealand Herald

Citizen Lab Senior Security Researcher Morgan Marquis-Boire discussed his research into online threat to activists and media and his work as the director of security at First Look Media.

Jon Penney interviewed regarding Canadian security agencies

Jon Penney, a law professor at Dalhousie University and Research Fellow at the Citizen Lab, was interviewed by VICE Motherboard regarding the dynamic between Canada’s security agencies and the courts. He explained the government’s tendency to fight back against the court’s insistence that CSIS and the Communications Security Estabilishment Canada (CSEC) must keep them up to date on their operations.

Helmi Noman interviewed for piece on Syrian Electronic Army

Citizen Lab Senior Researcher Helmi Noman was interviewed by the International Business Times regarding the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), and its attack of several international news sites. The SEA is a group of hackers in support of Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad’s regime, known to target opposition political group.

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