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Forbes on Citizen Lab’s Syria research

Opposition groups fighting in Syria’s civil war have had to contend with online campaigns against those who oppose the regime. Forbes’ article discusses FireEye’s recent report, authored by Daniel Regalado, Citizen Lab Technical Advisory Board member Nart Villeneuve, and Citizen Lab Research Fellow John Scott Railton, which uncovers the theft of opposition’s plans to take and hold a series of strategic positions. The plans included military details, arms information and the identities of opposition fighters in Syria, and thus represents a considerable strategic advantage for pro-regime forces.

The hacking was largely carried out by the transfer of malware over Skype, used to reveal 7.7 GB of plan information, including 12,356 contact names. This attack is believed to be just one in a series carried out by the Syrian Electronic Army, working in support of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. The article also cites Citizen Lab research from the report entitled “Malware Attacks Targeting Syrian ISIS Critics.”

Bahaa Nasr of Cyber Arabs has been working in tandem with Citizen Lab and other organizations to provide Syrians, as well as other human rights advocates and journalists in the Arab world with digital security training.  This takes place both in person and online, involving demonstrations on how to avoid phishing attacks, emphasizing good password practices, explaining types of malware, and more. This work has drawn on Citizen Lab research outlining the ways in which activists are frequently targeted in digital environments, such as the Targeted Threats project.

Read the full article.

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