Monday, June 7, 2021

More than 100 members of Australia's criminal underworld have been arrested after being tricked into using a supposedly encrypted app


As part of a three-year collaboration between the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), authorities say underworld figures were tricked into communicating via an encrypted app that had been designed by police.

The app, known as AN0M, was used by organised crime gangs around the world to plan executions, mass drug importations and money laundering.

Authorities say they were able to read up to 25 million messages in real time.

Related, this was a good podcast from last year about the "Phantom Secure" phone:
Phantom went further, however, and also physically removed the GPS functionality from the BlackBerry, as well as the microphone and camera. With this drastically locked down device, a user couldn't make ordinary calls on the phone and instead could only send encrypted emails. Phantom also introduced a remote wipe feature, where a user could contact the company, and Phantom would delete messages on the phone without having physical control of the device. The company ran its infrastructure outside of Canada, and routed data through servers in Panama and Hong Kong in an attempt to keep it out of the reach of third-parties.


A kilogram of cocaine in Australia can go for over eight times what it costs in the United States because of how difficult it is to smuggle drugs into the country. And top-level drug dealers needed a tool they could rely on and wouldn't let law enforcement listen in.

Here, Phantom found a new market.
And in fact, very related:
first the FBI and their source needed to establish Anom as an option in the criminal underworld. As Motherboard showed in a years-long investigation, using sources around Phantom as well as FBI files, Phantom was particularly popular in Australia. The CHS introduced Anom to his already trusted distributors of mobile devices, who were in turn trusted by criminal organizations, the document reads. Three people in Australia who had previously distributed Phantom, "seeing a huge payday," agreed to then sell these Anom devices, the document adds. With this, "the FBI aimed to grow the use of Anom organically through these networks," it reads.