How a Grad Student Found Spyware That Could Control Anybody's iPhone from Anywhere in the World
By Bryan Burrough
The night it happened, right after midnight on August 10, Bill Marczak and his girlfriend were staying up late to watch Star Trek reruns in their spare one-bedroom apartment, in El Cerrito, California, just north of the University of California at Berkeley campus.
A trim Ph.D. candidate with dense brown hair and a disciplined beard, Marczak wasn't just another excitable, fast-talking Berkeley grad student. He was a pioneering analyst in a new and unusual theater of cyber-warfare: the struggle between Middle Eastern freedom activists and authoritarian governments in countries such as Bahrain and Egypt. He was also a senior fellow at Citizens Lab, the University of Toronto "interdisciplinary laboratory" that had almost single-handedly discovered and alerted the world to how these governments were monitoring dissidents with spyware quietly marketed by a group of shadowy European and Israeli companies that have been labeled the first "cyber-arms dealers."