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

الاختراق العظيم: صحفيون تم اختراقهم باستغلال ثغرات غير معروفة “Zero-click” في “iMessage”

في شهري يوليو وأغسطس 2020 استخدم عملاءٌ حكوميون برنامج التجسس بيغاسوس “Pegasus” من مجموعة “NSO” لاختراق 36 هاتفاً شخصياً لصحفيين ومنتجين ومراسلين و مدراء تنفيذيين في قناة الجزيرة. كما تم اختراق هاتف صحفية في قناة العربي، التي مقرها لندن.

Running in Circles: Uncovering the Clients of Cyberespionage Firm Circles

Circles is a surveillance firm that reportedly exploits weaknesses in the global mobile phone system to snoop on calls, texts, and the location of phones around the globe, and is affiliated with NSO Group, which develops the oft-abused Pegasus spyware. Using Internet scanning, we found a unique signature associated with the hostnames of Check Point firewalls used in Circles deployments, enabling us to identify Circles deployments in at least 25 countries.

Dark Basin: Uncovering a Massive Hack-For-Hire Operation

Over the course of our multi-year investigation, we found that Dark Basin likely conducted commercial espionage on behalf of their clients against opponents involved in high profile public events, criminal cases, financial transactions, news stories, and advocacy. This report highlights several clusters of targets. In future reports, we will provide more details about specific clusters of targets and Dark Basin’s activities.

Stopping the Press: New York Times Journalist Targeted by Saudi-linked Pegasus Spyware Operator

New York Times journalist Ben Hubbard was targeted with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware via a June 2018 SMS message promising details about “Ben Hubbard and the story of the Saudi Royal Family.” The SMS contained a hyperlink to a website used by a Pegasus operator that we call KINGDOM. We have linked KINGDOM to Saudi Arabia. In 2018, KINGDOM also targeted Saudi dissidents including Omar Abdulaziz, Ghanem al-Masarir, and Yahya Assiri, as well as a staff member at Amnesty International.