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The eye on the Nile: Egypt’s civil society under attack

16:30 - 17:00 UTC Wed 30 Sept 2020
Aseel Kayal (Check Point Software Technologies)
Egyptian activists and journalists report and fight against human rights violations, only to face human rights violations themselves: they are often silenced, detained, tortured and imprisoned. Practising their freedom of expression becomes especially dangerous under a regime that is constantly wary of attempts to spark a second revolution. Therefore, it would not be surprising to see surveillance-motivated attacks trying to go after those targets.

This talk will discuss how an OPSEC mistake made by a state actor gave us a rare insight into their long-term malicious activity, and the methods they were using to keep a close eye on possible internal threats within Egypt. Among our findings were attempts to gain access to victims' inboxes and monitor their correspondences, mobile applications hosted on Google's Play Store and used to track victims' communications or location, and more.

We will start by reviewing our investigation into the attackers' infrastructure, and will then go over the different attack vectors and previously undisclosed malicious artifacts used in this operation. Lastly, we will share how we were able to find and reveal the identities of this campaign's high-profile targets, and the location of the headquarters from which we suspect the attackers are operating.
Aseel Kayal
Check Point Software Technologies Aseel is a malware analyst at Check Point Research. She joined Check Point as a security analyst in 2016. She received her Bachelor’s degree in computer science and English literature, and speaks Arabic, Hebrew and English.

Aseel’s research mainly focuses on threat groups and cyber attacks in the Middle East. Some of her work has been presented at security conferences such as Virus Bulletin, Chaos Communication Congress, Botconf, and TheSASCon.