An article in the Washington Post, titled “Research shows how MacBook Webcams can spy on their users without warning,” discussed two of the Citizen Lab’s research outputs.
Discussing the Remote Administration Tool, or RAT, which is a software that allows someone to control a computer from across the Internet, Security Researcher Morgan Marquis-Boire mentioned that “more sophisticated remote monitoring tools may already have the capabilities to suppress the warning light,” which indicates that the webcam is turned on. Powerful tools with such capabilities are made by companies like Hacking Team and FinFisher and are marketed for use by governments. This research has been documented in a number of reports such as From Bahrain With Love: FinFisher’s Spy Kit Exposed? (July 2012), The SmartPhone Who Loved Me: FinFisher Goes Mobile? (August 2012), You Only Click Twice: FinFisher’s Global Proliferation (March 2013), and For Their Eyes Only: The Commercialization of Digital Spying (April 2013). The Citizen Lab has been actively conducting research in this area for several years with projects led by numerous people and organizations, including Citizen Lab researchers and fellows Morgan Marquis-Boire, Bill Marczak, John Scott-Railton, Jakub Dalek, Seth Hardy, Greg Wiseman, and independent security researchers Claudio Guarnieri and Collin Anderson. These efforts join those of other individuals and organizations like Privacy International, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and many others.
The article also mentioned Citizen Lab’s 2009 report, Tracking GhostNet: Investigating a Cyber Espionage Network, that described a surveillance program called Ghostnet that the Chinese government allegedly used to spy on prominent Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama. We reported that “web cameras are being silently triggered, and audio inputs surreptitiously activated.”.