A spike in malicious hacking levels worldwide is not an increase in cyber wars between sovereign states, say the analysts, but rather the internal surveillance activities of governments seeking to silence popular dissent. Examples of these activities, even those of a high-profile nature, remain largely ignored by the media.
Packrat, an espionage group operating in Latin America, has been working for some seven years on suppressing dissidents in countries across the continent, according to a report issued by an expert group at the University of Toronto. Packrat’s purported methods include malware and phishing attacks, disinformation and direct threats aimed at those who seek to expose their activities.
The authors of the blog post noted that social media used by activists to coordinate public actions is easily spied on by authorities seeking to repress its citizens. The Red Shirt uprising in Thailand, using primarily Twitter to organize, ended up with the killing of dozens of protesters by government agents.
To address cyber-based forms of repression, the experts suggested starting with data collection.
The experts suggested that repressive online actors must be publicly deprived of their “digital arms,” in front of their governments and the general population. It was also offered that a universal “digital society” operating under common laws be constructed.