Targeted Threats

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

Featured in Targeted Threats

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

Between Hong Kong and Burma: Tracking UP007 and SLServer Espionage Campaigns

In this research note, we analyze a malware campaign targeting Hong Kong democracy activists. Two new malware families are used in the campaign that we name UP007 and SLServer. Previous reports have shown overlap in the tactics, tools, and procedures used in this campaign in other operations targeting groups in Burma, Hong Kong, and the Tibetan community.

Packrat: Seven Years of a South American Threat Actor

This report describes an extensive malware, phishing, and disinformation campaign active in several Latin American countries, including Ecuador, Argentina, Venezuela, and Brazil. The nature and geographic spread of the targets seems to point to a sponsor, or sponsors, with regional, political interests. The attackers, whom we have named Packrat, have shown a keen and systematic interest in the political opposition and the independent press in so-called ALBA countries (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), and their recently allied regimes.

Pay No Attention to the Server Behind the Proxy: Mapping FinFisher’s Continuing Proliferation

This post describes the results of Internet scanning we recently conducted to identify the users of FinFisher, a sophisticated and user-friendly spyware suite sold exclusively to governments. We devise a method for querying FinFisher’s “anonymizing proxies” to unmask the true location of the spyware’s master servers. Since the master servers are installed on the premises of FinFisher customers, tracing the servers allows us to identify which governments are likely using FinFisher. In some cases, we can trace the servers to specific entities inside a government by correlating our scan results with publicly available sources.