NSO Group / Q Cyber Technologies
Over One Hundred New Abuse Cases

The May 2019 WhatsApp Incident As reported in May 2019, WhatsApp identified and shortly thereafter fixed a vulnerability that allowed attackers to inject commercial spyware on to phones simply by ringing the number of a target’s device. Today Oct 29th, WhatsApp is publicly attributing the attack to NSO Group, an Israeli spyware developer that also… Read more »

Featured Publications

(Can’t) Picture This 2: An Analysis of WeChat’s Realtime Image Filtering in Chats

In this work, we study how Tencent implements image filtering on WeChat. We found that Tencent implements realtime, automatic censorship of chat images on WeChat based on what text is in an image and based on an image’s visual similarity to those on a blacklist. Tencent facilitates this realtime filtering by maintaining a hash index of MD5 hashes of sensitive image files.

The Predator in Your Pocket: A Multidisciplinary Assessment of the Stalkerware Application Industry

This report was collaboratively written by researchers from computer science, political science, criminology, law, and journalism studies. As befits their expertise, the report is divided into several parts, with each focusing on specific aspects of the consumer spyware ecosystem, which includes: technical elements associated stalkerware applications, stalkerware companies’ marketing activities and public policies, and these companies’ compliance with Canadian federal commercial privacy legislation.

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.

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Features & News

New York Times: WhatsApp Says Israeli Firm Used Its App in Spy Program

As part of our investigation into the incident, Citizen Lab has identified over 100 cases of abusive targeting of human rights defenders and journalists in at least 20 countries across the globe, ranging from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America that took place after Novalpina Capital acquired NSO Group and began an ongoing public relations campaign to promote the narrative that the new ownership would curb abuses.

Access My Info: How a Team of Researchers Investigated Data Access Rights around the World

Using the AMI approach, partners have launched projects around the world, including in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, and South Korea. These projects focused on making data access requests to telecommunications companies in each country, led by a local researcher and a team of volunteers. Every country has specific laws, regulations, and corporate mechanisms that present unique challenges and opportunities in accessing data, but the results of each provide insights into the larger ecosystem of data access. 

CLSI 2019 in Review

CLSI brings together academics, researchers, activists, and frontline workers and asks them to address some of the most pressing issues at the intersection of digital security and human rights.

Canada’s New and Irresponsible Encryption Policy: How the Government of Canada’s New Policy Threatens Charter Rights, Cybersecurity, Economic Growth, and Foreign Policy

The proposed rationales for weakening encryption would exchange marginal gains in limited investigative situations for significant loses with regards to Canadians’ abilities to exercise their rights and freedoms while simultaneously undermining cybersecurity, economic development, and foreign affairs. Minister Goodale should stop calling persons with well-considered policy positions on the importance of enabling the availability of strong encryption as supporters of child abusers, and get on with his job of trying to keep Canadians safe instead of endangering them with his irresponsible and dangerous encryption policy.

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.

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