Operation Venetic: United Kingdom police takedown encrypted criminal chat platform EncroChat, arrest 746 and seize $67 million in the largest cybersecurity operation ever
In one of the biggest operations called Operation Venetic, the United Kingdom police took down the cybercriminal network operating in the UK. The United Kingdom police were also able to take down their much-touted encrypted communications platform called EncroChat and arrest of 746 individuals, the seizing of $67 million in cash, 77 firearms, and over two tonnes of drugs.
The operation which was underway since 2016 was finally fructified by taking down the EncroChat messaging App. The EncroChat was one of the largest providers of encrypted messaging and was used extensively by cybercriminals. It offered users a secure mobile phone instant messaging service and was used by the cybercriminals to distribute drugs, launder money, and even put out hits on rival gangs. It had over 60,000 users around the world and 10,000 users in the United Kingdom.
The raid was led by UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and now the EncroChat servers have now been shut down. NCA said that it had worked with international law enforcement agencies to target EncroChat and other encrypted communication platforms used by criminals. It said that work, two months ago, resulted in partners in France and the Netherlands infiltrating the platform.
“Unbeknown to users, the NCA, and the police have been monitoring their every move since then under Operation Venetic — the UK law enforcement response,” the NCA said. “Operation Venetic is the biggest and most significant operation of its kind in the UK.”
NCA has been keeping tabs on EnroChat messages for the past six months after the got access to it by inserting a malware. Once NCA had access to EncroChat data, it created the technology and specialist data exploitation capabilities required to process the EncroChat data and help identify and locate offenders by analyzing millions of messages and hundreds of thousands of images.
“The infiltration of this command and control communication platform for the UK’s criminal marketplace is like having an inside person in every top organized crime group in the country,” NCA Director of Investigations Nikki Holland said. “This is the broadest and deepest ever UK operation into serious organized crime.
“Together we’ve protected the public by arresting middle-tier criminals and the kingpins, the so-called iconic untouchables who have evaded law enforcement for years, and now we have the evidence to prosecute them.”
Holland also said that any criminal who uses an encrypted phone should be “very, very worried”.