SHORT READ

The Criminals Who Informed On Themselves

The Police didn’t need an ‘inside man’ — they just had to read the messages.

Andy Killoran
4 min readJul 26, 2021

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Photo by Alwin Kroon on Unsplash

Police forces worldwide have scored spectacular success in catching and convicting criminals in the last two years. This achievement is thanks to the Police being able to listen to conversations that the criminals thought were private. Indeed, the miscreants imagined the calls and messages to be fully encrypted.

Their mistake in this respect has now cost many of them their liberty.

In Europe and the Middle East, there were 60,000 users of a system called EncroChat, which offered genuinely secure end-to-end encrypted communications — not even the network operator could decipher the traffic on their network. Many users were criminals, mainly in Europe, although with a significant number in the Middle East, focussed on Dubai.

This system was indeed secure until Netherland, French and British Police teams, working together, located the EncroChat server farm in France. The Police somehow managed to inject some additional software into the system, which meant that Police officers could both listen into and record all the traffic on the network.

You can read more about the EncroChat bust here:

Hundreds Face Justice Following Encrypted System Hack | by Andy Killoran | The True Crime Edition | Medium

Now, in a separate but associated sting operation jointly run by the Australian Federal Police and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, criminals have been using phones on the Anom encrypted network. The criminals did not realise that the network was created and operated by the FBI. The crime-fighting authorities could listen to and record every call.

The story reads like a movie script (and will probably become a film at some point). As well as EncroChat going offline, the Sky Global and Phantom Secure networks had also been taken down or compromised, and criminals were desperate for a means of secure and rapid communication.

Starting in 2019, the FBI created a network, Anom, which required specific handsets to access. The users could access the Anom network within the calculator app on the…

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Andy Killoran

British guy. Loves writing — loves words. Loves reading. Loves Medium. Twitter @andykilloran