Texts Allege Encryption Service Encrochat Hacked by Europol
According to an article on VICE, text messages sent to users of encrypted phones made by the manufacturer EncroChat informed them that law enforcement agencies had taken over the company's inner workings and that they were no longer safe.
The phones that the company sells, EncroPhones, offer such features as a dual operating system, panic wipe, and tamper proofing. Due to the anonymity and privacy features like these, companies like EncroChat are being increasingly targeted by law enforcement. In this instance, the phones have been linked to organized crime groups such as drug traffickers and contract killers.
A message allegedly sent to Encrochat users, published on the Dutch crime blog crimesite.nl, reads:
Today we had our domain seized illegally by government entities(s)[sic]. They repurposed our domain to launch an attack to compromise the carbon units. With control of our domain they manager [sic] to launch a malware campaign against the carbon to weaken its security.
It is not uncommon for companies in the encrypted phone industry to try to discredit their rivals, either to steal their user base or to eliminate competitors entirely. While the products may not be intended for illegal use, because of their secretive nature, it is only natural that their tactics tend to be underhanded at times. Back in 2017, for instance, a YouTube channel called Sylak 88 uploaded a sensational video of an EncroChat Phone being hacked:
An attempt to reach EncroPhone for comment was unsuccessful; the contact form on their website now appears to be disabled and gives the following message: Failed to send your message. Please try later or contact the administrator by another method. According to the VICE article, they attempted to reach Europol regarding this case, and a spokesperson replied, "We are not commenting on ongoing operations."
Strangely enough, a WordPress blog entitled EncroChat HACKED! makes numerous references to the phones being exploited by law enforcement agencies:
Encrochat, an essential (in) secure encrypted phone used by (foolish) people! However, they do not know that Encrochat is nothing but holes.
Dutch Government deciphered Encrochat. Click on 2nd Dutch link next sentence and read all.
The blog appears to be maintained by a rival of EncroChat, though the authors do not identify themselves. Given that there are several YouTube videos of people trying to defame the company, it is unsurprising that similar information exists in written form as well.