Law enforcement agencies in 17 countries welcomed multinational efforts to disrupt multiple criminal networks, thanks to AN0M, a platform controlled by the FBI and mounted on custom smartphones.
Smartphones were sold in the underground world of crime and were widely used by drug traffickers, arms dealers, murderers and others for about 18 months. The Justice Department explained at a press conference that messages sent from dedicated devices were fed back to the FBI database.
Ultimately, more than 12,000 devices were spread to 300 criminal syndicates operating in more than 100 countries, according to Europol.
People who used the device believed they were encrypted, and in late 2018, Phantom Secure CEO Vincent Ramos said the FBI created encrypted phones and sold them to criminal gangs. When I was arrested, I started the effort.
The FBI used one of the brokers associated with Phantom Secure to market a new eavesdropped smartphone and promote its legitimacy. According to court filings, other prominent figures in the criminal underworld have begun to favor the app for its security features.
Law enforcement officials said more than 800 people were arrested as a result of the operation, with officials from multiple countries saying 250 firearms, $ 48 million in cash and cryptocurrencies, 8 tons of cocaine, and 2 tons of methamphetamine. Amphetamine reports seized 55 luxury cars.
“I was able to actually see pictures of hundreds of tonnes of cocaine hidden in fruit shipments,” said Calvin Shivers of the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division.
Justice ministry officials said the operation, called the Trojan Shield in the United States, confused cartels and gangs in South America in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. However, most of the 27 million messages sent by the app came from Spain, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and Serbia.
In a court filing, the FBI said it was able to attract more criminals to the app by shutting down other competitors such as Sky Global and EncroChat. The app was also promoted to celebrities like Hakan Ayik, one of Australia’s most wanted men.
Cybersecurity experts say this isn’t the first time US law enforcement agencies have carried out such an operation.
In July 2017, Europol and the US Department of Justice conducted an operational bayonet that included the seizure of AlphaBay, the most popular English dark web market, according to Digital Shadows CISO Rick Holland.
Later, cybercriminal buyers and sellers flocked to an alternative market called Hansa, and the Dutch explained that new users were unaware that the Dutch police had taken over the market.
“The following month, they gathered information and evidence about criminal activity. International law enforcement agencies were able to stop cybercrime,” Holland said. “As always after law enforcement, cybercrime finds its way. Other criminals and services emerge from the ashes.”
JupiterOne CMO Tyler Shields said it was the first time he had seen hardware devices distributed and used to facilitate man-in-the-middle attacks on more than 300 criminal organizations.
“Usually software-based attacks targeting specific individuals or groups are used. The fact that this literally targeted the entire underground world is very important,” says Shields.
Other experts said this was a positive development, but criminal gangs succeeded in finding new tools despite repeated turmoil. Christoph Hebeisen, Lookout Director of Security Intelligence Research, explained that EncroChat and Phantom Secure are just two examples of crypto chat services popular with criminals and were ultimately hampered by law enforcement agencies.
“But as we’ve seen, ending an encrypted chat service that’s popular with criminals usually leads to a move to a new service,” Hebeisen added.
“Criminals can be more cautious as these withdrawals occur one after another, each leading to a large number of arrests. This allows criminals to become legitimate end-to-end encrypted chat services. May be able to hide inside an innocent user. “
The FBI has touted hundreds of arrests thanks to fake apps, but experts predict the emergence of even more encrypted chat services.
Source link The FBI has touted hundreds of arrests thanks to fake apps, but experts predict the emergence of even more encrypted chat services.