Targeted Threats

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Investigations into the prevalence and impact of digital espionage operations against civil society groups.

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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.

Latest Research

FORCEDENTRY: NSO Group iMessage Zero-Click Exploit Captured in the Wild

While analyzing the phone of a Saudi activist infected with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, we discovered a zero-day zero-click exploit against iMessage. The exploit, which we call FORCEDENTRY, targets Apple’s image rendering library, and was effective against Apple iOS, MacOS and WatchOS devices.

من اللؤلؤة إلى بيغاسوس: الحكومة البحرينية تخترق نشطاء عبر استغلال ثغرة “Zero-Click” من “NSO Group”

لقد حددنا تسعة نشطاء بحرينيين تم اختراق أجهزتهم الآيفون باستخدام برنامج تجسس “Pegasus” من NSO Group في الفترة ما بين يونيو 2020 و فبراير 2021. بعض النشطاء قد تم اختراقهم باستغلال ثغرتين zero-click في iMessage, كنا قد سمينا الثغرتين التي تم اكتشافها في 2020 ب KISMET، أما الثغرة المستخدمة في 2021 فنسميها FORCEDENTRY

From Pearl to Pegasus: Bahraini Government Hacks Activists with NSO Group Zero-Click iPhone Exploits

We identified nine Bahraini activists whose iPhones were successfully hacked with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware between June 2020 and February 2021. The hacked activists included three members of Waad (a secular Bahraini political society), three members of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, two exiled Bahraini dissidents, and one member of Al Wefaq (a Shiite Bahraini political society).

Hooking Candiru: Another Mercenary Spyware Vendor Comes into Focus

Candiru is a secretive Israel-based company that sells spyware exclusively to governments. Using Internet scanning, we identified more than 750 websites linked to Candiru’s spyware infrastructure. We found many domains masquerading as advocacy organizations such as Amnesty International, the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as media companies, and other civil-society themed entities.

Response to NSO Group on the Great iPwn Report

Since 2016, the Citizen Lab has published numerous reports regarding the use of Pegasus spyware against human rights defenders, journalists, politicians, and other members of civil society. Despite these findings, NSO Group has failed to substantively engage or respond to the research presented by the Citizen Lab and other organizations.