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ENCROCHAT AND THE LAW: All you need to know !


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When smartphones were invented, it initially seemed like there were thousands of more secure ways to chat than previously. However, this is no longer the case with police forces now able to infiltrate many supposedly encrypted applications through ‘backdoors’ in the technology.


EncroChat is one example of a supposedly secure way to communicate via mobile phone that lured users into a false sense of security. EncroChat was not just any type of encrypted communication. Unlike popular encrypted apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram, EncroChat was apparently mainly used by organised criminals. The high price of their handsets and the accompanying service fee suggests that only individuals who required the highest level of privacy, and who had money to spend on it, could afford to use the service.


As a result of UK police gaining access to the encrypted handsets produced by EncroChat, many members of organised crime groups are now being prosecuted. If you are concerned that this could affect you, read on to understand more about police activities in relation to EncroChat.



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WHAT IS ENCROCHAT?


EncroChat produced adapted mainstream handsets that use encrypted communication. Their products first emerged around 2015/2016 and were infiltrated by police in 2020. They are no longer in use.


EncroChat handsets have a special operating system and encrypted messaging software installed on them. They have two modes, one that turns the phone on as a dummy Android screen, and another secret mode that enables the user to access encrypted content.


EncroNotes was a facility that allowed users to make encrypted notes on their device. The service could run on certain Android, Samsung, and Blackberry devices. Some handsets are set up so that they can only communicate with other phones on the network.


These handsets often have additional features that make them more secure, such as hardware or software that enables rapid and sometimes remote removal of data. This was achieved through what is known as a ‘panic button’.


If you entered a specific code, all messages were deleted from the phone. These handsets did not have microphones, cameras, or GPS systems. This made it more difficult for the police to use technologies that could intercept communications on the handsets.


Some say that there is no evidence that EncroChat handsets were developed with criminal purposes in mind; in fact, they may have been developed to protect the interests of security conscious celebrities.


However, others suggest that criminal organisations helped to finance the development of the service. Whether or not this is true, it is undisputed that the way in which the EncroChat company operated was unlike a usual technology company.


When phone handsets were purchased by EncroChat customers, they were distributed secretively. For example, in Northern Ireland, an ex-military operative was involved in providing purchased phones to customers. Police forces claim that a large percentage of EncroChat’s users were involved in criminal activity.



 


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