Featured Publications

The not-so-silent type: Vulnerabilities across keyboard apps reveal keystrokes to network eavesdroppers

In this report, we examine cloud-based pinyin keyboard apps from nine vendors (Baidu, Honor, Huawei, iFlyTek, OPPO, Samsung, Tencent, Vivo, and Xiaomi) for vulnerabilities in how the apps transmit user keystrokes. Our analysis found that eight of the nine apps identified contained vulnerabilities that could be exploited to completely reveal the contents of users’ keystrokes in transit. We estimate that up to one billion users could be vulnerable to having all of their keystrokes intercepted, constituting a tremendous risk to user security.

PAPERWALL: Chinese Websites Posing as Local News Outlets Target Global Audiences with Pro-Beijing Content

A network of at least 123 websites operated from within the People’s Republic of China while posing as local news outlets in 30 countries across Europe, Asia, and Latin America, disseminates pro-Beijing disinformation and ad hominem attacks within much larger volumes of commercial press releases. We name this campaign PAPERWALL. We attribute the PAPERWALL campaign to Shenzhen Haimaiyunxiang Media Co., Ltd., aka Haimai, a PR firm in China based on digital infrastructure linkages between the firm’s official website and the network. These findings confirm the increasingly important role private firms play in the realm of digital influence operations and the propensity of the Chinese government to make use of them.

Chinese censorship following the death of Li Keqiang

As part of our ongoing project monitoring changes to Chinese search censorship, we tracked changes to censorship following Li Keqiang’s death across seven Internet platforms: Baidu, Baidu Zhidao, Bilibili, Microsoft Bing, Jingdong, Sogou, and Weibo. We found that some keyword combinations in search queries triggers hard censorship whereas others trigger soft censorship. Our results demonstrate China’s ongoing efforts to push state-sanctioned narratives concerning politically sensitive topics, impacting the integrity of the online information environment.

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

Noura Al-Jizawi speaks at Montreal Institute of Genocide and Human Rights Studies’ online event

Activists and dissidents living in Canada are impacted by digital transnational repression (DTR) – a tool used by authoritarian governments to continue to harass and intimidate individuals online, even after leaving their country of origin. Join this online event hosted by the Montreal Institute of Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS), where the Citizen Lab’s… Read more »

Citizen Lab commentary in Brookings: The TikTok debacle: Distinguishing between foreign influence and interference

“What separates benign foreign influence from malign interference? And if foreign-owned platforms like TikTok are used for both interference and influence, how should we respond?” In this piece for Brookings, Diana Fu, associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto and Emile Dirks, research associate at the Citizen Lab, discuss issues like soft… Read more »

Vulnerabilities in VPNs: Paper presented at the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium 2024

The annual Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium (PETS) 2024 is underway in Bristol, UK and online, a gathering of privacy experts from around the world to discuss recent advances and new perspectives on research in privacy technologies. On July 16, former Citizen Lab Open Technology Fund (OTF) Information Controls Fellowship Program fellow Benjamin Mixon-Baca will be… Read more »

Featured Video

Digital attacks against exiled and diaspora women activists – re:publica 2024