Internet platforms became an important tool for crime. Not only because they allow the distribution of malware and various wide-ranging frauds, but because they have allowed international criminals to get in touch using technology such as encrypted messaging apps. The authorities are aware of this and decided that the best strategy they could follow was to create their own communication system and make criminals believe that their exchange of information was encrypted when in reality, the FBI was watching everything.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States (FBI) announced the execution of Operation Trojan Shield through which it executed, for years and covertly, an encrypted communications platform that allowed it to intercept 20 million messages from international criminal organizations.
Thanks to this investigation, the authorities have made hundreds of arrests in 18 countries. The suspects, including members of the Italian mafia and outlaw motorcycle gangs, are among those who have been charged. The Australian police alone, who helped conceive the operation, arrested 224 criminals and seized 3.7 tons of drugs and $ 44.9 million in cash and assets. In turn, the New Zealand Police have made 35 arrests and seized $ 3.7 million in assets.
According to the agency, the operation was planned after a popular encrypted phone service known as Phantom Secure disappeared. According to recently revealed court documents, after that platform was shut down and its CEO arrested in 2018, the FBI used an infiltrator to get criminal networks to start using a new application called " Anom " that was actually developed with a master key. that allowed agents to monitor, decrypt and store each message.
During the following months, the application grew its number of users thanks to a beta test" in Australia and the dismantling of two call encryption companies. The FBI insider then used the situation to distribute Anom-powered devices to criminals, and the app gradually gained popularity in the high-profile crime scene, the Australian Police noted.
These criminals put law enforcement in the back pocket of hundreds of suspected criminals. Essentially, they have handcuffed each other endorsing and relying on AN0M and communicating openly, unaware that we were watching the entire time, said the commissioner of the Australian Federal Police Reece Kershaw in a statement.
In detail, the FBI explained that through this technology, messages sent from phones outside the United States were sent encrypted to an iBot server and, from there, the code was decrypted and immediately re-encrypted, but now with the code. the FBI so its content was available for viewing. In addition, each Anom user was assigned an identification number.
Thanks to this operation, in general, according to the report, law enforcement agencies have managed to catalog 20 million messages out of a total of 11,800 devices located in more than 90 countries.
Now, in total, there are approximately 9 thousand active Anom devices. And, according to the FBI, it has identified more than 300 transnational criminal organizations that use the chat platform for various purposes, from alleged plots to kill someone to mass trafficking in drugs and weapons.