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Cryptographically-augmented phones aren't as secure as criminals thought

Dutch Forensic Institute cracks them in hundreds

14.Aug.23 7:44 AM
By Shawn Highstraw
Photo Photobank


Cryptographically-augmented phones aren't as secure as criminals thought
The Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI), partly due to a European collaborative project called EXFILES, has managed to crack hundreds of encrypted phones used by serious criminals. Offenders use such phones to prevent interception.

Cryptophones encode phone and message traffic. When law enforcement intercepts communication, encryption ensures that the content of conversations remains secret. Criminals believe themselves to be safe with this technology.

However, these phones should not fall into the hands of the NFI, as the institute has specialized in cracking cryptophones through the European collaboration project EXFILES.

In conjunction with various law enforcement agencies and companies, the NFI sought new methods and techniques to gain access to the latest models of these phones.

Thanks to this collaboration, since 2020, the NFI has been able to crack hundreds of cryptophones. The information retrieved from cracked phones is often valuable in investigations related to organized crime.

According to the NFI, over the past years, gaining access to messages on cryptophones has become both more important and more complex. "Nowadays, phones have multiple layers of encryption, and the phones undergo software modifications," says Erwin van Eijk, head of the Digital and Biometric Traces division at the NFI.

EXFILES started in July 2020 and is now coming to an end. In October, the European Commission will evaluate the project and decide whether there will be a continuation.

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