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.
Citizen Lab Research
Investigations into the prevalence and impact of digital espionage operations against civil society groups.
بين شهري مايو وسبتمبر 2023، استُهدِف عضو البرلمان المصري السابق أحمد الطنطاوي ببرنامج التجسس Predator من Cytrox عبر روابط أُرسلت إليه عبر رسائل قصيرة و رسائل WhatsApp. وقع الاستهداف بعد أن صرح الطنطاوي علنًا بخطته للترشح لمنصب الرئاسة في الانتخابات المصرية لعام 2024.
Between May and September 2023, former Egyptian MP Ahmed Eltantawy was targeted with Cytrox’s Predator spyware via links sent on SMS and WhatsApp after Eltantawy publicly stated his plans to run for President in the 2024 Egyptian elections. As Egypt is a known customer of Cytrox’s Predator spyware, and the spyware was delivered via network injection from a device located physically inside Egypt, we attribute the attack to the Egyptian government with high confidence.
Studies of Internet filtering, network interference, and other technologies and practices that impact freedom of expression online.
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.
В данном отчете рассматривается доступность некоторых видов контента в ВК для пользователей из Канады, Украины и России.
This report examines the accessibility of certain types of content on VK (an abbreviation for “VKontakte”), a Russian social networking service, in Canada, Ukraine, and Russia. Among these countries, we found that Russia had the most limited access to VK social media content, due to the blocking of 94,942 videos, 1,569 community accounts, and 787 personal accounts in the country.
Examinations of transparency and accountability mechanisms relevant to the relationship between corporations and state agencies regarding personal data and other surveillance activities.
This report provides a comprehensive guide to geolocation-related threats sourced from 3G, 4G, and 5G network operators. Case studies, references, examples, and evidence are provided to give a complete and contextual understanding of mobile network-based location tracking in order to formulate policies and actions that protect civil society from current and future geolocation surveillance.
Citizen Lab examined a set of documents leaked to news outlet The Intercept that describe plans to develop and launch an Iranian mobile network, including subscriber management operations and services, and integration with a legal intercept solution. If implemented fully as envisioned, it would enable state authorities to directly monitor, intercept, redirect, degrade or deny all Iranians’ mobile communications, including those who are presently challenging the regime.
Police led mass iris scan collection in Qinghai, a region with a population that is 49.4% non-Han, including Tibetans and Hui Muslims. Iris scan collection is part of long-standing police intelligence gathering programs. Through this data collection, Qinghai’s police are effectively treating entire communities as populated by potential threats to social stability.
Research into privacy, security, and information controls of popular applications.
我们分析了腾讯的搜狗输入法，该输入法的月活跃用户超过 4.5 亿，是中国最受欢迎的中文输入法。
我們分析了騰訊的搜狗拼音輸入法，該輸入法每月活躍使用者超過 4.5 億，是中國最受歡迎的中文輸入法。
In this report, we analyze the Windows, Android, and iOS versions of Tencent’s Sogou Input Method, the most popular Chinese-language input method in China. Our analysis found serious vulnerabilities in the app’s custom encryption system and how it encrypts sensitive data. These vulnerabilities could allow a network eavesdropper to decrypt sensitive communications sent by the app, including revealing all keystrokes being typed by the user. Following our disclosure of these vulnerabilities, Sogou released updated versions of the app that identified all of the issues we disclosed.
Outputs related to the global community of practice that the Citizen Lab helps to cultivate through our Cyber Stewards Network, various fellowships, and events.
Findings from this study underscore that online and offline threats should not be viewed as separate phenomena, but rather as overlapping and mutually reinforcing.
Cyber Steward Network partner Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC) will lead a public hearing at the 167 extraordinary period of session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Taking place on February 28 at 11:30 am EST, the hearing is titled “Digital Intelligence, Cybersecurity, and Freedom of Expression in America”. The topics to be addressed in… Read more »
Cyber Stewards Network organization Sula Batsu Cooperativa has been honoured with a 2017 EQUALS in Tech Award. Presented at the Internet Governance Forum at the United Nations in December, Kemly Camacho– Sula Batsu Coordinator– accepted the award on behalf of the group. They were recognized in the Leadership category for their work to create women-led… Read more »
While the Citizen Lab is primarily focused on high-level academic research, we also produce accessible tools and educational resources to help everyone better navigate their online lives. Below are some of the latest projects that are aimed at making everyone safer online.