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Net Alert


Net Alert brought together well respected researchers in the circumvention tech space to investigate targeted digital attacks against at-risk populations. Participating organizations and/or individuals include Open Effect, The Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, and professor Jedidiah Crandall at the University of New Mexico.

A main portion of OTF support involved investigating the privacy issues of popular consumer-grade technologies used by at-risk populations since the vulnerabilities and backdoors found in these tools can be utilized by state-sponsored attackers to surveil, censor, disrupt and target end-users. Other areas of focus for this research effort included targeted malware, network side channels and man-in-the-middle attacks. In addition to creating new bodies of knowledge, the project allowed researchers to test assumptions about previous work, develop a refined and validated methodology for communicating technical research and findings to at-risk populations, and improve the limited knowledge available of popular mobile applications in the global south.

Research findings were translated into six Net Alert reports designed to empower end-users to make better informed decisions about their technology usage. To ensure their accessibility, emphasis was put on visualizations and other non-text based media. In addition, each report was localized, translated and tailored according to the needs, use cases and threat models of each community.

Get the word out

Funding to date

2016 $192,570.00 12 months

Total Funding: $192,570.00

Addressed problems

  • Restrictive Internet filtering by technical methods (IP blocking, DNS filtering, TCP RST, DPI, etc.)
  • Blocking, filtering, or modification of political, social, and/or religious content (including apps)
  • Technical attacks against government critics, journalists, and/or human rights organizations (Cyberattacks)
  • Repressive surveillance or monitoring of communication


  • Research


  • Activists
  • Journalists
  • Advocacy groups/NGOs
  • Academia
  • Ethnic minorities
  • General public
  • Women
  • Youth
  • Sexual minorities

Region(s) archive

  • Global

Technology attributes

  • Desktop App
  • Desktop client
  • Mobile application (clientside)

We wrote about it

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