Grant / January 2020

Measuring and Defending Against New Trends in Nation-State Surveillance of Dissidents


Targeted nation-state hacking against dissidents’ devices and online accounts is a growing problem with significant real-world consequences for targets, including physical harm. While initial research efforts have mapped out part of the ecosystem of these attacks, attackers are increasingly “going dark” by adapting their tools and techniques to compromise target devices with no target interaction. These “zero-click” attacks do not leave digital traces—such as suspicious emails or SMS messages—that targets can identify and forward to researchers. This research will develop a deeper understanding of these new attack techniques by engaging with and monitoring targets, by developing new forms of internet scanning to track abuse and pinpoint victims, and by building and deploying defensive tools.

Research Findings and Presentations