Police State/Civil Liberties

This Is the Code the FBI Used to Wiretap the World

by Joseph Cox Vice
Motherboard is publishing parts of the code for the Anom encrypted messaging app, which was secretly managed by the FBI in order to monitor organized crime on a global scale.
The FBI operation in which the agency intercepted messages from thousands of encrypted phones around the world was powered by cobbled together code. Motherboard has obtained that code and is now publishing sections of it that show how the FBI was able to create its honeypot. The code shows that the messages were secretly duplicated and sent to a “ghost” contact that was hidden from the users’ contact lists. This ghost user, in a way, was the FBI and its law enforcement partners, reading over the shoulder of organized criminals as they talked to each other.

Last year, the FBI and its international partners announced Operation Trojan Shield, in which the FBI secretly ran an encrypted phone company called Anom for years and used it to hoover up tens of millions of messages from Anom users. Anom was marketed to criminals, and ended up in the hands of over 300 criminal syndicates worldwide. The landmark operation has led to more than 1,000 arrests including alleged top tier drug traffickers and massive seizures of weapons, cash, narcotics, and luxury cars.

Motherboard has obtained this underlying code of the Anom app and is now publishing sections of it due to the public interest in understanding how law enforcement agencies are tackling the so-called Going Dark problem, where criminals use encryption to keep their communications out of the hands of the authorities. The code provides greater insight into the hurried nature of its development, the freely available online tools that Anom’s developers copied for their own purposes, and how the relevant section of code copied the messages as part of one of the largest law enforcement operations ever.


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