The United States and Australian police have had access to the Anom service since 2018. Anom is at least the third service that has provided “secret” communication to criminals, the secrets of which have been read by police as an open book.
For years, the FBI was able to monitor and decrypt the message traffic. The service carried about 27 million messages that the authorities could read in real time. The Anom service ceased operations on Monday, and several police officials announced the joint operation on Tuesday.
In In 2018, the FBI arrested the CEO of the smuggling service Phantom Secure. Phantom Secure was a company that sold customized “security phones”.
The FBI had a source of information that had acted as a reseller of Phantom equipment. He collaborated to get a smaller verdict himself.
When Phantom Secure’s services stopped working, the FBI source began offering a new service called Anom to the market.
The information is revealed FBI seizure or search request, filed in the Southern District of California in May. The FBI at the time wanted permission to seize the contents of a Gom account of an Anom user suspected of cocaine trafficking.
According to HS, even in Finland, self-employed people have been found to modify smartphones for criminal use.
Organized there is an ingrained way in the culture of crime to try to avoid police surveillance with various security solutions. The word about new types of services circulates among criminals, and the introduction of a particular device or service may be a prerequisite for communication between a network of criminals.
Even the customer acquisition and distribution of equipment and services is based on mutual trust, according to a May document from an agent by the FBI’s San Diego unit.
The FBI caught on to that confidence.
FBI source had previously sold Phantom Secure and Sky Global equipment. He had invested a considerable amount in the development of a new type of secure communication tool, but offered the FBI access to it. The person who cooperated with the FBI had a ready-made sales network. Through it, he also had the necessary confidence.
An decryption key was inserted into the communication in the Anom service. U.S. messages were unloaded in the U.S., and messages that moved outside the U.S. were routed to a separate server in another state.
From this server located in the territory of an unnamed state, the authorities of that state began to intercept the accumulated message traffic to the FBI three times a week.
As of May 2021, there were already at least 450,000 images showing criminal activity alone.
When in March 2021, the messages from Sky Global’s equipment were also taken over by the police, demand from Anom exploded. In March, the FBI testified that there were about 3,000 Anom users. In a May document, the FBI estimated the number of Anom users at that time to be about 9,000.
In practice, the police made room for a product that was already under their own control.
When a previously cast net had been decided to blackmail around Anom users, Monday’s police operation involved police officers from 16 countries. The arrests were made by police in a total of 18 countries.
More than 800 people were arrested or detained on Monday alone. At least 700 searches were made. Money in various currencies worth about 44 million euros and more than 30 tons of drugs were seized.
Ten murders were prevented in Sweden, 21 in Australia.
Read more: Police infiltrate global organized crime telephone service: At least 800 arrested, ten murders blocked in Sweden
Almost a hundred people were arrested in Finland alone. In connection with the preliminary investigations related to the operation, the authorities have confiscated a total of more than 500 kilos of drugs, dozens of weapons and hundreds of thousands of euros in cash in Finland.
Read more: Authorities again found large-scale criminal suspicions in the underworld’s preferred messaging service: almost a hundred people were arrested in Finland
With criminals the market still uses a number of different encryption solutions around the world: both obscure “security phones” and a variety of applications. Based on the dark network marketplaces, the most popular in the Finnish drug trade seems to be the Wickr application, but it is not the only one.
Usually, these Encryption Services used by criminals consist of both the phone and the applications installed on it. The operating system is mostly purpose-built Android with additional features. One common feature is the ability to remotely wipe the device in case it happens to fall into the hands of police. The devices are advertised with “military level” encryption and the right of users to a high level of privacy.
It is impossible to say whether users believe these promises.
Read more: For years, criminal groups bought unsecured promises from a company whose owners’ traces disappear to Panama
Criminals in electronic communications need encryption and trust in encryption about as badly as they need trust in each other and that no one “calves” their crimes to the authorities.
It is this trust that the police want to break.