Last May, international judicial cooperation resulted in a massive crackdown and the arrest of 800 criminals. To succeed in this operation, the FBI had developed special smartphones, sold for around 2,000 euros on the black market to attract criminals and encourage them to use them, as well as the infiltrated Anom messaging system.
The FBI uses advanced techniques to succeed in its missions. They sold to crooks, for an undercover operation, an Android smartphone whose operating system has been modified. This is called a “honeypot” technique, this expression which means pot of lamb suggests the idea of a bait (such as honey used to attract bears).
After the FBI announced Operation Anom, some Anom users rushed to get rid of their device, including selling it online to unsuspecting people. This is how Motherboard got one of the ‘Anom’ phones, more specifically a modified Pixel 4a, and its mysterious ‘ArcaneOS’.
ArcaneOS, non-functional applications and hidden functions
When starting the phone, a logo is displayed, it is that of the operating system called “ArcaneOS”. Very little information is publicly available on ArcaneOS. Most of the articles online on this fork of Android appear to have been written by people who recently inadvertently purchased an Anom device and found that it didn’t perform like a regular phone.
The Play Store, Tinder, Instagram, Facebook, Netflix and even Candy Crush apps seem at first glance installed. But none of these apps work, and tapping their icons doesn’t do anything. In fact, these apps hide an entirely different interface of the device, with a new background and new apps. On this new interface there is a clock application, a calculator and device settings.
What is amazing is how far the FBI got. The goal was to attract criminals, so they integrated security features that might be of interest to them, including a hidden chat application (Anom), via the app. Calculator, or a PIN code scrambling mode. That’s not all, there was also a wipe code feature that allows you to wipe the phone from the lock screen.
The bet was successful for the FBI who wanted to make unsuspecting drug traffickers feel like they were using a real cryptophone, right down to the modified operating system, even though the device discreetly exposed the messages to FPI agents.
Source: Frandroid by www.frandroid.com.
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