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  1. #1
    The Dentist English Noodles's Avatar
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    Police infiltrate encrypted system, arrest hundreds 'leading secret criminal lives'

    Police infiltrate encrypted system, arrest hundreds 'leading secret criminal lives', and seize 54m

    Many of the targets are said to have considered themselves "untouchable", posing as respectable, wealthy tycoons.

    Police have arrested hundreds of suspected top-tier criminals involved in murder, gun smuggling and drug trafficking after infiltrating their encrypted phone system.

    In an operation led by the UK's National Crime Agency, investigators say they have seized 54m in cash, two tonnes of cocaine, 77 firearms including assault rifles, sub-machine guns and grenades and prevented contract killings.

    Many of the targets are said to have considered themselves "untouchable" - posing as respectable, wealthy tycoons with lifestyles built on the profits of legitimate businesses.


    One source said: "Many were seen by friends and neighbours as pillars of society, but in reality were leading secret, glamorous lives they thought would go on forever."

    Every police force in Britain was involved in Operation Venetic, which was launched in April after analysts managed to infiltrate the secretive Encrochat mobile telephone system used by organised criminals around the world.

    The system which was hosted in France was taken down during the police operation.

    Users paid 1,600 a month for a bespoke Encrochat handset which offers a highly encrypted communication platform.

    The NCA says there were 60,000 users around the world and 10,000 in the UK, all off them suspected criminals.

    Organised crime gangs used Encrochat to underpin their operations, swapping images of guns and drugs for sale and building in codes and timers that wiped data automatically.

    The NCA said some law enforcement officers - fewer than ten - were among those arrested after being "compromised" in intercepted messages.

    Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said: "This is an amazing moment. We've known for ages that some organised criminals we have dealt with over the years but have never been able to bring to justice for the most serious offences, have been turning to encrypted devices they thought were completely impenetrable.

    "They thought they were never going to get caught and were able to use those devices without worry and this shows that law enforcement will be able, in the future, wherever you hide to come after you. These people have been hiding for far too long.

    "So this is just the beginning. We have arrested large numbers of people. We have many more to arrest and we will be disrupting organised criminal networks as a result of these operations for weeks and months and possibly years to come.

    "I think it is a game changer because it shows people that you need to be very frightened because we may already be after you now on the basis of what you have been doing."

    The National Crime Agency said investigators had seized 106 Encrochat mobile handsets during the operation so far and prevented the murder of several individuals who were the targets of rival gangs.

    NCA Director of Investigation's Nikki Holland said: "These are people who are causing vast amounts of misery and harm acrossd the UK.

    "These are what we would call iconic untouchable, these are people that have worked with impunity and evaded law enforcement and now we have been able to get inside and see exactly what they are doing."

    The operation involved law enforcement agencies across Europe and is thought to be the biggest ever against organised crime groups.

    One gang it targeted was thought to be smuggling guns and drugs through a network spanning Europe and the United Arab Emirates.







    Police infiltrate encrypted system, arrest hundreds 'leading secret criminal lives', and seize PS54m | UK News | Sky News

  2. #2
    disturbance in the Turnip baldrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by English Noodles View Post
    glamorous lives
    marvelous

  3. #3
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Many of the targets are said to have considered themselves "untouchable" - posing as respectable, wealthy tycoons with lifestyles built on the profits of legitimate businesses.
    While sticking out like sore thumbs as the sort of low rent, half-witted criminal chavs they actually are.

  4. #4
    The Dentist English Noodles's Avatar
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    EncroChat: What it is, who was running it, and how did criminals get their encrypted phones?



    The company - which had severs in France - provided an encrypted phone network widely used by criminal, according to Europol.

    Police forces across Europe celebrated their infiltration of EncroChat on Thursday, disrupting international organised crime networks which were using the company's encrypted phones.

    In the UK, authorities arrested 746 suspected top-tier criminals who are believed to be involved in murder, gun smuggling and drug trafficking crimes, and seized 54m in cash and 1.5 tonnes of cocaine.

    Similar operations have been carried out across Europe, as a result of intelligence gleaned from police's access to millions of messages sent using the encrypted messaging network over the past five months.

    Who was behind EncroChat?

    The identities of the people running EncroChat are currently unknown.


    The National Crime Agency (NCA) told Sky News that the company itself has not been accused of criminal activity, but that its platform was used by criminals.

    Following the police action, someone presenting themselves as a company representative told Vice Motherboard that they were shutting down their service to protect their customers.

    "Our main priority has always been our customers integrity and security, and when we no longer can guarantee that, we have no other choice than to shut down the service even if it destroys our business," they said.

    What is an EncroPhone?

    The encrypted phone industry generally advertises its phones as capable of resisting lawful attempts to gain access to their contents, both in the face of physical attacks and - most pertinently - from police keeping an eye on their network traffic.

    Leaked documents obtained by Motherboard revealed that EncroChat's phones were modified Android devices, many of them based on the BQ Aquaris X2 - an Android phone released in 2018 by a Spanish electronics company.

    Europol said the devices were marketed as guaranteeing perfect anonymity, and came with dual operating systems - a normal one and a hidden one to conduct secret messaging on.

    Physical modifications to the devices also meant the camera, microphone, GPS transponder and USB port were removed.

    Additionally, users could enter a PIN code which would immediately delete all of the messages on the device - as would happen in the event that wrong passwords were repeatedly entered.

    These functions "apparently were specially developed to make it possible to quickly erase compromising messages, for example at the time of arrest by the police", according to Europol.

    "In addition, the device could be erased from a distance by the reseller/helpdesk," the agency added.

    Who used the EncroPhones?

    Europol has said the company was "one of the largest providers of encrypted digital communication with a very high share of users presumably engaged in criminal activity".

    "User hotspots were particularly present in source and destination countries for cocaine and cannabis trade, as well as in money laundering centres," the law enforcement agency added.

    In the UK, the NCA said investigators had seized 106 EncroChat mobile handsets during its operation so far and prevented the murder of up to 200 people who were the targets of rival gangs
    Users paid 1,600 a month for the devices.

    How did you buy one?

    Before the company's website was taken down, it had a page for resellers and for contacting the firm in case people were interested in purchasing one of the devices - but it did not keep an online store.

    Vice Motherboard also spoke to a current prison inmate who said they had purchased one of the devices through a contact who ran a shop, although didn't sell the encrypted phone from those premises but down a side street instead.

    Europol described the company as advertising perfect anonymity, even at the point of sale - describing this as "acquisition under conditions guaranteeing the absence of traceability".

    How did the authorities crack down on it?

    The encrypted messaging system first came to the attention of the French Gendarmerie in 2017, which said it was regularly finding the phones when conducting operations against organised crime gangs.

    They eventually discovered that EncroChat was operating from servers based in France and were eventually able "to put a technical device in place" which allowed them to access the encrypted messages sent over the company's network.

    Although it isn't clear what this device was, it suggests the investigators were able to deploy some form of technical implant on the network rather than break the encryption protecting the messages in transit.

    As the company website is offline, Sky News was unable to contact EncroChat for comment.

    EncroChat: What it is, who was running it, and how did criminals get their encrypted phones? | Science & Tech News | Sky News

  5. #5
    Hansum Man! panama hat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by English Noodles View Post
    Many of the targets are said to have considered themselves "untouchable", posing as respectable, wealthy tycoons.
    Nice for the big fish to be caught for a change

  6. #6
    Thailand Expat jabir's Avatar
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    Firearms including assault rifles and grenades, can't think of too many friendly uses for those, esp if the gun lobby succeed in clamping down on legal ownership.

    Interesting also that UK has 10k of the 60k worldwide users.

    And having planted the device to intercept encryption, it makes no sense for the authorities to gain temporary political points by gloating over how clever they are. They should have stayed low profile building up dossiers across the board, to take down far more users than they did, hopefully more suppliers than buyers, and seize a lot more cash, drugs and weapons. I suspect most of the 'hundreds of suspects' they busted were end users, not suppliers, and if so now that the cat's out the high flyers will be sitting on beaches in countries with no extradition. Or maybe that's where they trade from.


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