John Scott-Railton is a Senior Researcher at Citizen Lab (at The University of Toronto). His work focuses on technological threats to civil society, including targeted malware operations, cyber militias, and online disinformation. His greatest hits include a collaboration with colleague Bill Marczak that uncovered the the systematic use of Pegasus spyware to target civil society in several countries, including Mexico and the UAE. Pegasus is developed by the Israeli cyber-warfare company NSO Group and sold exclusively to governments. That investigation also uncovered the first iPhone zero-day and remote jailbreak seen in the wild. Other investigations with Citizen Lab colleagues include the first report of ISIS-led malware operations, China’s “Great Cannon,” the Government of China’s nation-scale DDoS attack, and the “tainted leaks” disinformation campaigns strongly linked to the Russian Government. These investigations, and others, have served as the basis for criminal investigations and lawsuits. John has also investigated the successful manipulation of news aggregators such as Google News, and privacy and security issues with fitness trackers. Recently, John was a fellow at Google Ideas and Jigsaw at Alphabet.
John has undergraduate degrees from the University of Chicago and a Masters from the University of Michigan. He is completing a PhD at UCLA. Previously he founded The Voices Projects, collaborative information feeds that bypassed internet shutdowns in Libya and Egypt. John’s work has been covered by Time Magazine, BBC, CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.