Citations & Research

Research Topics

  • Understanding digital counterinsurgency
    • E.g.  Electronic actors like cyber militias
  • Targeted digital threats against high risk groups
  • The ubiquity of mass-market communications tools during periods of political transition and unrest
    • Especially decentralized networks and communications practices
    • And the new class of risks this introduces
  • The role of internet freedom funding & institutions

Selected Recent Citations

Scott-Railton J, Marczak B, Abdulrazzak B, Crete-Nishihata, Deibert R Reckless Exploit: Mexican Journalists, Lawyers and a Child Targeted with NSO Spyware. Citizen Lab, June 19, 2017.

Hulcoop A, Scott-Railton J, Tanchak P, Brooks M, Deibert R Tainted Leaks: Disinformation and Phishing With a Russian Nexus. May 25, 2017.s. May 25, 2017.

Scott-Railton J, Marczak B, Guarnieri C & Nishihata M Bitter Sweet: Supporters of Mexico’s Soda Tax Targeted With NSO Exploit Links. Citizen Lab, Feburary 11, 2017.

Scott-Railton J, Raoof R, Marczak B & Maynier E Nile Phish: Large-Scale Phishing Campaign Targeting Egyptian Civil Society Citizen Lab, Feburary 2, 2017.

Marczak B & Scott-Railton J The Million Dollar Dissident: NSO Group’s iPhone Zero-Days used against a UAE Human Rights Defender Citizen Lab, August 25 2016.

Scott-Railton J, Abdulrazzak B, Hulcoop A, Brooks M, Kleemola K Group5: Syria and the Iranian Connection  Citizen Lab, August 2 2016.

Marczak B & Scott-Railton J Keep Calm and (Don’t) Enable Macros: A New Threat Actor Targets UAE Dissidents Citizen Lab, May 29th 2016.

Scott-Railton J Security for the High Risk User: Separate and Unequal. IEEE Security & Privacy, Issue No.02 – Mar.-Apr. (2016 vol.14).

Deibert R & Scott-Railton J (2016) Digitally Armed and Dangerous: Humanitarian Intervention in the Wired World. In Phil Williams and Dighton Fiddner, Eds. Cyberspace Malevolent Actors, Criminal Opportunities and Strategic Competition (pp. 319-368). Carlisle: United States Army War College.

Dalek J, Crete-Nishihata M & Scott-Railton J Shifting Tactics: Tracking changes in years-long espionage campaign against TibetansCitizen Lab, March 10, 2016.

Scott-Railton J, Marquis-Boire M, Guarnieri C & Marschalek M Packrat: Seven Years of a South American Threat Actor Citizen Lab, December 8 2015.

Anderson C, Crete-Nishihata M, Dehghanpoor C, Deibert R, McKune S, Ottenheimer D, and Scott-Railton J Are the Kids Alright? Digital Risks to Minors from South Korea’s Smart Sheriff Application, CitizenLab, Sept 20 2015.

Scott-Railton, J & Kleemola K. London Calling: Two-Factor Authentication Phishing From Iran, Citizen Lab, August 27 2015.

Bill Marczak, Nicholas Weaver, Jakub Dalek,Roya Ensafi, David Fifield, Sarah McKune, Arn Rey, John Scott-Railton, Ronald Deibert & Vern Paxson. An Analysis of China’s “Great Cannon,” 5th USENIX Workshop on Free and Open Communications on the Internet, August 10, 2015.

Katie Kleemola, Masashi Crete-Nishihata, and John Scott-Railton. Targeted Attacks against Tibetan and Hong Kong Groups Exploiting CVE-2014-4114  Citizen Lab, June 15 2015.

Bill Marczak, Nicholas Weaver, Jakub Dalek,Roya Ensafi, David Fifield, Sarah McKune, Arn Rey, John Scott-Railton, Ronald Deibert & Vern Paxson .China’s Great Cannon. Citizen Lab & The International Computer Science Institute, April 10 2015.

Katie Kleemola, Masashi Crete-Nishihata, and John Scott-Railton. Tibetan Uprising Day Malware AttacksCitizen Lab, March 10 2015.

Bill Marczak, John Scott-Railton, and Sarah McKune, Hacking Team Reloaded? US-Based Ethiopian Journalists Again Targeted with SpywareCitizenLab, March 9 2015.

Regalado D, Villeneuve N & Scott-Railton J Behind the Syrian Conflict’s Digital Front LinesFireEye, 2015.

Scott-Railton J & Hardy S 2014 Malware Attack Targeting Syrian ISIS CriticsCitizen Lab, University of Toronto.

Crete-Nishihata M, Dalek J, Deibert R, Hardy S, Kleemola K, McKune S, Poetranto I, Scott-Railton J, Senft A, Sonne B, & Wiseman G 2014 Communities @ Risk: Targeted Digital Threats Against Civil SocietyCitizen Lab, University of Toronto.

Marczak B, Scott-Railton J, Marquis-Boire M & Paxson V 2014 When Governments Hack Opponents: A Look at Actors and Technology, 23rd USENIX Security Symposium, August 20-22, San Diego, CA.

Marquis-Boire M, Scott-Railton J, Guarnieri C & Kleemola K 2014 Police Story: Hacking Team’s Government Surveillance MalwareCitizen Lab, University of Toronto.

Scott-Railton, J 2014 Maliciously Repackaged Psiphon FoundCitizen Lab, University of Toronto.

Marczak B, Guarnieri C, Marquis-Boire M & Scott-Railton J 2014 Hacking Team and the Targeting of Ethiopian Journalists, Citizen Lab, University of Toronto.

Marczak B, Guarnieri C, Marquis-Boire M & Scott-Railton J 2014 Mapping Hacking Team’s “Untraceable” Spyware, Citizen Lab, University of Toronto.

Galperin E, Marquis-Boire M & Scott-Railton 2013  J Quantum of Surveillance: Familiar Actors and Possible False Flags in Syrian Malware Campaigns, EFF & Citizen Lab.

Scott-Railton J & Marquis-Boire M 2013 A Call to Harm: New Malware Attacks Target the Syrian Opposition. Citizen Lab, University of Toronto.

Marquis-Boire M, Anderson C, Dalek J, McKune S & Scott-Railton J 2013 Some Devices Wander By Mistake: Planet Blue Coat ReduxCitizen Lab, University of Toronto.

Marquis-Boire M, Marczak B, Guarnieri C, Scott-Railton J 2013 For Their Eyes Only: The Commercialization of Digital Spying. Citizen Lab, University of Toronto.

Marquis-Boire M, Dalek J, McKune S, Carrieri M, Crete-Nishihata M, Diebert R, Khan SO, Noman H, Scott-Railton J & Wiseman G 2013 Planet Blue Coat: Mapping Global Censorship and Surveillance Tools. Citizen Lab, University of Toronto.

Marquis-Boire, M Marczak B, Guarnieri C & Scott-Railton J 2013 You Only Click Twice: FinFisher’s Global Proliferation.  Citizen Lab, University of Toronto.


Other Research Projects


Singer BF, Scott-Railton J & Vezina P. (2012) Unpredictable saccharin reinforcement enhances locomotor responding to amphetamineBehavior & Brain Research 226(1), 340-344.

Read more about this work here: A Gateway Activity? From Slot Machines to Speed, Science Life, 2011.

Scott-Railton J, Arnold G & Vezina P (2006) Appetitive sensitization by amphetamine does not reduce its ability to produce conditioned taste aversion to saccharinBehavior & Brain Research, 175(2), 305-314.

Development & Planning

Mukhija V & Scott-Railton J (2013) The importance of design in affordable housing: lessons from mutual self-help housing in California. Housing Policy Debate, 23(4), 765-780.

Scott-Railton, J (2008) Empowering or Entangling?  Challenges of Participation in DevelopmentAgora, 49-58.