Encrochat encrypted cell phone simplifies the encryption process for the end-user.
Encrypted communication network EncroChat has announced to shut down its services after European law enforcement agencies arrested several individuals using EncroChat for nefarious purposes.
The company sells custom-encrypted mobile phones (sold at £3,500) to security personnel who want to keep their communications private.
The technology EncroChat uses to facilitate encrypted communication is legal and was developed primarily to address users’ privacy concerns. However, authorities identified that given its high degree of security many organized crime networks had started to use the handsets.
It is worth noting that EncroChat doesn’t allow voice calls but only text or picture messages. Instead of using mobile networks, it uses a Wi-Fi signal.
However, according to Motherboard, in a coordinated hacking operation against EncroChat and its users, European law enforcement agencies managed to halt the company’s operations for around 30 minutes, and eventually forced it to permanently shut down its business.
“Due to the level of sophistication of the attack and the malware code, we can no longer guarantee the security of your device,” the company said in a statement.
Screenshot of the message sent by EncroChat to its users:
Within a few hours, cops started an extensive search and arrest operation on both sides of the border. The company notified its users about the security breach last weekend and requested them to destroy their handsets.
“We took immediate action on our network by disabling connectivity to combat the attack. You are advised to power off and physically dispose of your device immediately,” EncroChat announced.
EncroChat rep stated that their security was breached by a ‘foreign organization’ that carried out attacks from the UK using an old email address that was associated with the company for years. However, the identity of the person using this account is still unclear.
Some of the arrested individuals were presented in a Northern Ireland court, while many others awaiting their cases to be filed in the coming weeks.
One of the accused, Galway resident Michael O’Loughlin is facing two counts of conspiring with others for committing murder, making/supplying passport for fraudulent purposes, dealing in firearms, robbery, converting/transferring criminal property, and 11 drug offenses appeared in Newry court on Wednesday.
Cops told the court that evidence against O’Loughlin has been obtained via “lawfully authorized clearance” to access his encrypted mobile phone data. However, the accused denied the charges.
The National Crime Agency responded to the news of joint operation against EncroChat stating that:
“We are aware of reports relating to law enforcement action taken against Encrochat, however, we do not routinely confirm or deny the NCA’s involvement.”
Motherboard also separately obtained screenshots of text messages sent over the last week of alleged Encrochat users discussing a wave of arrests associated with the Encrochat takeover.