Transnational Task Force Dismantles Unlawful Phantom Secure Encrypted Communication Network

A spokesperson for the Australian Federal Police recently declared that a transnational task force has been able to dismantle a criminal network which relying on encrypted communications to coordinated drug and weapons transport. The organization managed to stay below to radar because of the efforts of Phantom Secure, a Canadian-based telecommunication company that spliced vendor-approved hardware and replacing it with their components.

Phantom Secure Encrypted Blackberry and Samsung Phones for Criminal Organizations

In accordance with a criminal grievance filed with a US District Court, Canadian-based Phantom Secured has been accused of tackling with vendor hardware and replacing it with its own versions which are capable of encrypting communication channels.

Phantom Secure encrypted BlackBerry and Samsung phones were subsequently sold to various criminal organizations around the globe and used to stage terror attacks, transport narcotics or smuggle firearms without fear of being intercepted by the authorities.

Following the dismantling of this operation, several Phantom Secure managers and employees were taken into custody, including the company’s CEO.

According to the official report, after unlocking the smartphones, Phantom Secure would upload its proprietary encryption software and several other means of secure communication, including an email client.

Since the beginning of the operation, which brought together agent from various agencies such as Austrac, AFP, FBI, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Royal Mounted Canadian Police and the Queensland Police, approximately 10,000 hacked devices have been recovered.

Moreover, the report indicates that the devices were sold using a subscription-type scheme – the potential party had the possibility of choosing various subscriptions, each with its benefits, for $3000.

Conclusion

Peter Bodor, an NSW Crime Commissioner, declared that even with Phantom Secure dismantled, other subversive entities might step up in order to take its place. Although the authorities are standing by to decrypt other forms of clandestine transmission, Peter Dutton, the Minister for Home Affairs, noted that decryption takes time and during a crisis, time can become a very precious commodity.

Image source: Flickr

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