Social Engineering Attacks on Government Opponents: Target Perspectives

TitleSocial Engineering Attacks on Government Opponents: Target Perspectives
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsMarczak, B., & Paxson V.
Published inProceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies
Keywordshuman rights, privacy, surveillance

New methods of dissident surveillance employed by repressive nation-states increasingly involve socially engineering targets into unwitting cooperation (e.g., by convincing them to open a malicious attachment or link). While a fair amount is understood about the nature of these threat actors and the types of tools they use, there is comparatively little understood about targets’ perceptions of the risks associated with their online activity, and their security posture. We conducted in-depth interviews of 30 potential targets of Middle Eastern and Horn of Africa-based governments, also examining settings and software on their computers and phones. Our engagement illuminates the ways that likely targets are vulnerable to the types of social engineering employed by nationstates.

ICSI Research Group

Networking and Security