citizenlab

Dissidents are getting destroyed by information attacks and tech isn't doing enough to help

A pair of researchers from Toronto's storied Citizen Lab (previously) have written an eye-opening editorial and call to action on the ways that repressive states have used the internet to attack dissidents, human rights advocates and political oppositions -- and how the information security community and tech companies have left these people vulnerable. Read the rest

When Justin Trudeau was in opposition, he voted for Canada's PATRIOT Act but promised to fix it; instead he's making it much, much worse

Back in 2015, Canada's failing, doomed Conservative government introduced Bill C-51, a far-reaching mass surveillance bill that read like PATRIOT Act fanfic; Justin Trudeau, leader of what was then a minority opposition party, whipped his MPs to vote for it, allowing it to pass, and cynically admitting that he was only turning this into law because he didn't want to give the Conservatives a rhetorical stick to beat him with in the next election -- he promised that once he was Prime Minister, he'd fix it. Read the rest

Security Planner: a peer-reviewed tool to help you figure out your personal digital security plan

The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab (previously) is one of the most effective, most trustworthy expert groups when it comes to investigating the abuse of computers to effect surveillance and sabotage, so the launch of Security Planner, the Lab's peer-reviewed tool that guides you through the creation of a personal security plan, is a game-changing event. Read the rest

Israeli firm Cyberbit illegally spied on behalf of Ethiopia's despots, then stored all their stolen data on an unencrypted, world-readable website

Researchers from the University of Toronto's amazing Citizen Lab (previously) have published a new report detailing the latest tactics from the autocratic government of Ethiopia, "the world's first turnkey surveillance state" whose human rights abuses have been entirely enabled with software and expertise purchased on the open market, largely from companies in western countries like Finfisher and Hacking Team. Read the rest

In an engineering paper, bunnie Huang and Ed Snowden describe a malware-resistant hardware Iphone privacy overlay

In July 2016, Andrew "bunnie" Huang and Edward Snowden presented their research on journalist-friendly mobile surveillance resistance at the first MIT Media Lab Forbidden Research conference; a little over a year later, they have published an extensive scholarly paper laying out the problems of detecting and interdicting malware in a mobile device, and presenting a gorgeously engineered hardware overlay that can be installed in an Iphone to physically monitor the networking components and report on their activity via a screen on a slim external case. Read the rest

Investigators into mass murder of Mexican student teachers were attacked with NSO's government spyware

In 2014, 43 students from Mexico's Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College went missing in Iguala, in the state of Guerrero: they had been detained by police, who turned them over to a criminal militia, who are presumed to have murdered them. Read the rest

Israeli company's spyware used to target corruption-fighting journalists and lawyers in Mexico

The NSO Group is an Israeli firm that describes itself as a "cyber warfare" company, dealing exclusively to governments, including the famously corrupt and dysfunctional government of Mexico. The NSO Group is presently for sale, with a $1 billion pricetag. Read the rest

Cyberarms dealer's weapons used against Mexican soda-tax activists

NSO is an Israel cyberarms dealer, which buys or researches vulnerabilities in software and then weaponizes them; claiming that these cyberweapons will only be used by democratic governments and their police forces to attacks serious criminals and terrorists -- a claim repeated by its competitors, such as Italy's Hacking Team and Gamma Group. Read the rest

How governments and cyber-militias attack civil society groups, and what they can do about it

The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab (previously) is one of the world's leading research centers for cybersecurity analysis, and they are the first port of call for many civil society groups when they are targeted by governments and cyber-militias. Read the rest

China's We Chat "shadow-bans" messages with forbidden keywords, but only for China-based accounts

The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab (previously) continues its excellent work, this time with a deep investigative piece on a sneaky form of censorship in China's popular We Chat service, where messages posted to group chats that contain words on a government blacklist are made invisible to other participants in the chat, while the original poster still sees it, giving the illusion that everyone's read the controverial message but no one found it worth commenting upon. Read the rest

Canadian government has turned "consultation" on warrantless mass surveillance into a sales-job

The old Canadian Conservative government of Stephen Harper had many controversial policies (cough climate denial cough), with mass surveillance powers very near the top of the charts. Read the rest

Not just Yemen: Canadian cyberarms dealer Netsweeper also helped censor the net in Bahrain

Netsweeper is a litigious cyberarms dealer that threatened to sue the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab when its researchers outed the company for its work in helping Yemen's despotic regime censor the internet; later, the company dropped its lawsuit. Read the rest

Iranians connected to phishing attempt on tortured Syrian activist

Former Syrian National Council vice-president Nour Al-Ameer fled to Turkey after being arrested and tortured by the Assad regime -- that's when someone attempted to phish her and steal her identity with a fake Powerpoint attachment purporting to be about the crimes of the Assad regime. Read the rest

Censorship company drops bogus lawsuit against researchers who outed them

Netsweeper sells "internet filtering technology" -- a tool that spies on users' internet traffic and censors some of what they see -- that is used by governments to control their populations, including the government of Yemen, which uses it to block its citizens' access to material critical of its policies. Read the rest

United Arab Emirates hacked UK journalist

A new research report from Citizenlab painstaking traces the origins of a series of sophisticated hacking attacks launched at Rori Donaghy, a UK journalist for Middle East Eye who founded the Emirates Center for Human Rights, which reports critically on the autocratic regime that runs the UAE, and 27 other targets. Read the rest

Baidu browser isn't just a surveillance tool, it's a remarkably sloppy one

Chinese Internet giant Baidu -- a combination between Google, Facebook and Twitter, with key investments in many companies, including Uber -- makes its own Windows/Android browser, long believed to be a de facto surveillance tool. Read the rest

Help wanted: malware researcher for U of T's Citizenlab

Ronald Deibert from the University of Toronto's Citizenlab (previously) sez, "The Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto has a job posting for a security researcher/malware analyst. Read the rest

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