New: details on how exactly FBI ran its undercover encrypted phone company, from former official involved and sources. Customer service, tech support, protecting from hackers

"We can't just run a good investigation; we have to run a good company"

vice.com/en/article/m7e…
The problem was one essentially of marketing. The FBI had to make this fake company look like any other encrypted phone firm on the market, and give it credibility so suspected criminals would buy the phones vice.com/en/article/m7e…
The operation was extraordinarily complex, according to former official who worked on it. Legal, bureaucratic, logistic issues from start to finish vice.com/en/article/m7e…
Spoke to a former distributor of Phantom phones who I know (when Phantom was closed, the FBI launched Anom). They said Anom went "very hard" in Australia. People used two phones, Ciphr and Anom on the side. Then, just recently, used Anom more vice.com/en/article/m7e…

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More from @josephfcox

11 Jun
New: here is how hackers broke into EA games and stole a ton of code/internal tools
- bought cookie online for $10
- logged into EA Slack
- trick IT support to give login token for EA network

"We explain to them we lost our phone at a party last night"

vice.com/en/article/7kv…
Started with hackers buying cookies online. These can save the login details for a user to a particular service; if you have that, you can potentially log in as them. The hackers did this to get into EA's Slack vice.com/en/article/7kv… Image
Once inside the Slack, the hackers then pretended they were a worker who had lost their phone, so they needed their multifactor authentication code. EA IT support gave it vice.com/en/article/7kv… Image
Read 4 tweets
10 Jun
New: Otonomo is a firm that sells location data from cars, etc. They say it's privacy-preserving. But source scraped data from their website en masse, gave it to us, we could see where people drove and where they likely lived

"Privacy nightmare," EFF said vice.com/en/article/4av…
Getting this location data was easy. I just made a free account on their website with a random Gmail, soon after got a bunch of GPS coordinates related to vehicles. A source independently did this over time and the world, and got much more data vice.com/en/article/4av… Image
The location data potentially shows where people live by showing the spots the cars were most frequently at over time. Spoke to source at a company that uses car location data; they don't think it's possible to truly anonymize this type of data vice.com/en/article/4av… Image
Read 5 tweets
9 Jun
New: for two weeks I've been asking Apple and Google whether the CEO of Citizen using his app to trigger a manhunt for the wrong person and put a bounty on his head violated their app store policies, which it appears to. Both companies wouldn't comment vice.com/en/article/wx5…
Both Apple and Google have policies that may have been violated here: humiliate, defamatory, physical harm, etc. But neither company would answer the straight question on whether it violated or whether it was reviewing app status vice.com/en/article/wx5… Image
This is the sort of stuff that Citizen itself (*not* its users) said during the manhunt. "FIND THIS FUCK," "We need the scent of his clothing," etc vice.com/en/article/wx5… Image
Read 5 tweets
8 Jun
New: the story of how the FBI secretly ran an encrypted phone app for criminals just got wilder. DOJ now charging people who worked for the company, including 'influencers' who sold phones. Lumped with big charges; they were working for the FBI all along vice.com/en/article/y3d…
"Anom has generated the Defendants millions of dollars in profit by facilitating the criminal activity of transnational criminal organizations"

Unknowingly, these people thinking they were making millions were working for the FBI, and now being charged

vice.com/en/article/y3d… Image
From the outside, and even if you worked *inside* Anom, it looked just like a normal encrypted phone company. Admins to wipe phones, influencers to spread hype, agents on the ground selling the phones. All being charged now for unknowingly working for FBI vice.com/en/article/y3d… Image
Read 4 tweets
8 Jun
New: for *years* the FBI has been secretly running an encrypted messaging app used by criminals. Sometimes cops shut down these networks or hack them. Here, the FBI took over it in its infancy and saw it grow across the world, listen to all the messages vice.com/en/article/akg…
Anom offered users encrypted communication. People close to and trusted by organized crime sold Anom devices. But the FBI, and its source, were secretly running the company, and added a master key to the encryption, letting them read millions msgs vice.com/en/article/akg… Image
When Anom started, the FBI needed it to get customers. The source who created the company introduced it to people who previously sold Phantom phones; Phantom was dead, there was a void. Anom could take over their user base vice.com/en/article/akg… Image
Read 18 tweets
21 May
Scoop: leaked emails, documents, sources show the crime app Citizen is testing an on-demand private security force. You request assistance through the app, a private security force comes to help in minutes. Drastic escalation of what Citizen offers vice.com/en/article/v7e…
Citizen has been an app for receiving information and some user generated content. On-demand private security forces are a dramatic, in-person escalation of that. Emails show one of the companies involved is Securitas vice.com/en/article/v7e…
Spoke to multiple sources with knowledge of Citizen's effort to offer a private security force to app users.

"It's been something discussed for a while but I personally never expected it to make it this far." vice.com/en/article/v7e…
Read 12 tweets

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