[conspire] EncroChat and trippin' backhoes.

Nick Moffitt nick at zork.net
Fri Apr 16 01:06:59 PDT 2021

Greetings from Ealing, West London.  We recently had an Ealing Man story that might explain why so many backhoes seem to dig up telecommunications links: it's the MDMA!


Excellent X-ray photography of the digger's half-tonne payload of E, there.

But further down this caught my eye:

> NCA investigators analysing encrypted messages obtained as part of Operation
> Venetic – the UK investigation into the EncroChat network – uncovered an
> alleged criminal conspiracy by a London-based crime group to export drugs in
> heavy plant machinery to Australia.

I hadn't heard of "EncroChat" but the Wikipedia page is a pretty tidy summary:


Privacy-focused mobile phone device (probably running some Cyanogen-esque rebuild project akin to LineageOS) with an e2e chat app built in and security updates from the vendor.  Seems like a sensible product for the stated target market of high-profile individuals (celebrities, etc.) who want privacy in their personal phone communications.  It was kind of an expensive service, with units running £900 and the service contract coming to £2700 per year.  But I suppose that's a small price to pay if you're a wealthy individual in the limelight.

Of course law enforcement started seeing these things in investigations into organised crime, and the Gendarmes forced them to sniff messages just a couple years after they got started.  How do you sniff e2e encrypted messages, you ask?  Well it's simple if you control the update feed: just get people to install an upgrade that includes a backdoor for law enforcement, and Bob's your uncle.

I tried to find out if this company had any "canary" pages, but it seems like they never really aimed the product at actual security-conscious tech folks; so they may never have had one.

The site's still up, despite the company folding last Summer:


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