Defending Politically Vulnerable Organizations Online

Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity (CLTC): “A new report …details how media outlets, human rights groups, NGOs, and other politically vulnerable organizations face significant cybersecurity threats—often at the hands of powerful governments—but have limited resources to protect themselves. The paper, “Defending Politically Vulnerable Organizations Online,” by CLTC Research Fellow Sean Brooks, provides an overview of cybersecurity threats to civil society organizations targeted for political purposes, and explores the ecosystem of resources available to help these organizations improve their cybersecurity.

“From mass surveillance of political dissidents in Thailand to spyware attacks on journalists in Mexico, cyberattacks against civil society organizations have become a persistent problem in recent years,” says Steve Weber, Faculty Director of CLTC. “While journalists, activists, and others take steps to protect themselves, such as installing firewalls and anti-virus software, they often lack the technical ability or capital to establish protections better suited to the threats they face, including phishing. Too few organizations and resources are available help them expand their cybersecurity capabilities.”

To compile their report, Brooks and his colleagues at CLTC undertook an extensive open-source review of more than 100 organizations supporting politically vulnerable organizations, and conducted more than 30 interviews with activists, threat researchers, and cybersecurity professionals. The report details the wide range of threats that politically vulnerable organizations face—from phishing emails, troll campaigns, and government-sanctioned censorship to sophisticated “zero-day” attacks—and it exposes the significant resource constraints that limit these organizations’ access to expertise and technology….(More)”.