Dutch police hacked criminals' encrypted devices only to find rampant cop corruption

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Dutch police have announced that they have launched a new investigation team that will look into corruption after searching through tens of millions of encrypted messages taken from Encrochat devices.

According to a new report from Motherboard, authorities are looking to identify police who leaked information to organized criminals using the encrypted messaging service available on Encrochat smartphones. Up until now, the Encrochat investigations have focused primarily on drug trafficking and organized crime.

In a Dutch press release, Chief of Police Henk Van Essen provided further insight on the current Encrochat investigations, saying:

“Criminal investigations into possible corruption are currently underway and there are likely to be more in the near future. In addition to investigations into drug trafficking and money laundering, investigations into corruption are also given top priority."

Encrochat investigations

Encrochat was a subscription-based phone system that cost users roughly $1,994 per month. For this price, its users received a customized Android smartphone which had its GPS, camera and microphone physically removed. Encrochat devices shipped with Android and a number of encrypted messaging apps pre-installed but the smartphones also had a secure secondary operating system that could be wiped by entering a PIN thanks to a self-destruct feature.

Encrochat smartphones were particularly popular with criminals for hire and drug traffickers who used them to communicate securely with customers and partners without fear that law enforcement authorities could be intercepting their conversations. However, French law enforcement managed to install malware on them capable of disabling their factory reset feature, recording screen lock passwords and cloning app data.

It turns out that some Encrochat customers were also involved in corruption including police themselves. According to Van Essen, corruption is “unmistakably present” now that investigations into the company's encrypted smartphones have turned up new evidence.

We'll have to wait until these investigations conclude to know the full extent of the corruption in European police departments though.

Via Motherboard

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.