Running in Circles
Uncovering the Clients of Cyberespionage Firm Circles

Circles is a surveillance firm that reportedly exploits weaknesses in the global mobile phone system to snoop on calls, texts, and the location of phones around the globe, and is affiliated with NSO Group, which develops the oft-abused Pegasus spyware. Using Internet scanning, we found a unique signature associated with the hostnames of Check Point firewalls used in Circles deployments, enabling us to identify Circles deployments in at least 25 countries.

Featured Publications

Lifting the lid off the Internet.

The Citizen Lab is an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto, focusing on research and development at the intersection of information and communication technologies, human rights, and global security. Learn more.

Get the latest Citizen Lab news right in your inbox. Subscribe below.

Privacy Policy

Features & News

Gender & Digital Security: Results from a Scoping Study

This report contains a summary of the scoping study’s results and it proceeds as follows: first, it outlines the Lab’s work on gender and digital security; second, it maps the landscape of research and advocacy in this field and discusses the interviews’ findings; and finally, it highlights some of the research gaps that are relevant to the Citizen Lab’s work.

Annotated Bibliography: Transnational Digital Repression

This annotated bibliography compiles and summarizes relevant literature on “transnational digital repression” (i.e., where states seek to exert pressure—using digital tools—on citizens living abroad in order to constrain, limit, or eliminate political or social action that threatens regime stability or social and cultural norms within the country). While transnational repression itself is not a new phenomenon, there has been limited research on how such repression is enabled and expanded by digital tools.

Submission to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services Consultation: Strengthening Privacy Protections in Ontario

It is encouraging to see the provincial government undertake efforts to improve the state of privacy law in Ontario, given the increasingly ubiquitous data commodification and surveillance of our behaviours, bodies, online and offline activities, and lives. To that end, the Citizen Lab submitted a brief which included 21 recommendations for legal and policy reform in Ontario, with a view to strengthening the privacy and data protection rights of individuals in the province.

Featured Video

CBC: WhatsApp Attributes Hack of 1,400 Users to NSO Group Technology

Citizen Lab senior researcher John Scott-Railton discusses why WhatsApp is suing NSO Group after discovering their spyware was used to target 1,400 users—100 of whom were members of civil society—and why this is a significant bellwether.

Unless otherwise noted this site and its contents are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada license.

Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy | University of Toronto