Targeted Threats

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

Latest Research

Hacking Team and the Targeting of Ethiopian Journalists

In this report, we identified three instances where Ethiopian journalist group ESAT was targeted with spyware in the space of two hours by a single attacker. In each case the spyware appeared to be RCS (Remote Control System), programmed and sold exclusively to governments by Milan-based Hacking Team.

Targeted Threat Index

The Targeted Threat Index is a metric for assigning an overall threat ranking score to email messages that deliver malware to a victim’s computer. The TTI metric was first introduced at SecTor 2013 as part of the talk “RATastrophe: Monitoring a Malware Menagerie” by Katie Kleemola, Seth Hardy, and Greg Wiseman.

A Call to Harm: New Malware Attacks Target the Syrian Opposition

The Citizen Lab is pleased to announce the publication of A Call to Harm: New Malware Attacks Against the Syrian Opposition. This research report by Morgan Marquis-Boire and John Scott-Railton examines two recent cyber attacks targeting the Syrian opposition: malware masquerading as the circumvention tool Freegate and a campaign masquerading as a call to arms by a pro-opposition cleric.

For Their Eyes Only: The Commercialization of Digital Spying

Citizen Lab is pleased to announce the release of “For Their Eyes Only: The Commercialization of Digital Spying.”  The report features new findings, as well as consolidating a year of our research on the commercial market for offensive computer network intrusion capabilities developed by Western companies.

Permission to Spy: An Analysis of Android Malware Targeting Tibetans

This blog post reports on a malware attack in which a compromised version of Kakao Talk, an Android-based mobile messaging client, was sent in a highly-targeted email to a prominent individual in the Tibetan community. The malware is designed to send a user’s contacts, SMS message history, and cellular network location to attackers. This post was updated on 18 April 2013.

You Only Click Twice: FinFisher’s Global Proliferation

This post describes the results of a comprehensive global Internet scan for the command and control servers of FinFisher’s surveillance software. It also details the discovery of a campaign using FinFisher in Ethiopia that may have been used to target individuals linked to an opposition group. Additionally, it provides examination of a FinSpy Mobile sample found in the wild, which appears to have been used in Vietnam.

APT1’s GLASSES – Watching a Human Rights Organization

In this research brief, Seth Hardy describes malware (“GLASSES”) sent in 2010 that is a simple downloader closely related to malware described by Mandiant in their APT1 report. GLASSES appears to be a previous version of malware called GOGGLES by Mandiant, and was sent in a highly targeted email to a Tibetan human rights organization, demonstrating that APT1 is involved in more than just industrial and corporate espionage.