EncroChat crypto phones used Signal protocol

The crypto phones of provider EncroChat used the Signal protocol to allow users to communicate with each other in an encrypted manner. Vice Magazine reports this on the basis of a document from the British National Crime Agency. The Dutch police announced last July that it had read more than twenty million chat messages from Encrochat users.

EncoChat used the Signal protocol to encrypt the messages . The same protocol that Signal and WhatsApp use for end-to-end encryption. During the operation of the authorities, the encryption of Signal has not been cracked. Both Vice Magazine and NRC report that a Joint Investigation Team, under the direction of the French and Dutch investigative authorities, developed software that was rolled out unseen on the phones of all 50,000 Encro customers via an EncroChat server.

The software intercepted new messages so that investigative services could read along with users. In addition to intercepting messages, the authorities' software was also able to find out the GPS location, stored messages, passwords and other information. The collected data was then shared with various investigative services.

Last month, a British judge ruled that the messages obtained by the French police had not reached the authorities through "interception". UK law prohibits the use of intercepted evidence in court cases, the BBC reports . Lawyers for detained British suspects say that the authorities' software read the messages from the memory of the phones. There would therefore be an intercepted transmission.

The judges ruled that the messages were temporarily stored on the device for processing before they were sent. During the transmission, the messages were encrypted and could therefore not be read by the police, the judge said. He compared it to the process of sending a letter. The letter is written and placed in an envelope. Then a stamp is attached to the envelope and it goes into the letterbox. Only with this last action will the letter be sent by a system.

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