Endpoint //

Authentication

3/16/2018
03:09 PM
50%
50%

Phantom Secure 'Uncrackable Phone' Execs Indicted for RICO Crimes

Executives of Phantom Secure have been indicted on federal RICO charges for encrypting communications among criminals.

"Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas," the old aphorism goes. "Encrypt for drug traffickers, wake up with indictments," is the version that Phantom Secure might render today. In a series of indictments, a federal grand jury said the CEO and four associates, "... knowingly and intentionally participated in a criminal enterprise that facilitated the transnational importation and distribution of narcotics through the sale and service of encrypted communications."

According to the FBI, Phantom Secure earned more than $80 million in the last decade providing secure communications for over 20,000 users, all of whom were active in various criminal undertakings. In their product offerings, Phantom Secure took standard smart phones, removed all "civilian" functionality, and replaced it with encrypted email systems that the phones could only use for communicating within the Phantom Secure network of devices.

In a statement, the FBI says, "Given the limited functionality of the phones and the fact that they only operate within a closed network of criminals, all of Phantom Secure's customers are believed to be involved in serious criminal activity." The FBI worked with Australian Federal Police, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and law enforcement agencies in Panama, Hong Kong, and Thailand to pursue and arrest CEO Vincent Ramos in Bellingham, Wash. The other four Phantom Secure executives named in the indictments are still at large.

In statements, FBI director Christopher Wray said, "'The indictment of Vincent Ramos and his associates is a milestone against transnational crime," while US Attorney Adam Braverman said, "When criminals go dark, and law enforcement cannot monitor their phones or access evidence, crimes cannot be solved, criminals cannot be stopped and lives can be lost. As a result of this groundbreaking prosecution, we will disable the communication infrastructure provided by a criminal enterprise to drug traffickers and other violent criminals."

Ramos will face charges in federal court in San Diego. He and his associates have been charged with Conspiracy to Commit RICO in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962 and Conspiracy to Aid and Abet the Distribution of Controlled Substances in violation of 21 U.S.C.  § 841 and 846.

For more, read here and here.

Dark Reading's Quick Hits delivers a brief synopsis and summary of the significance of breaking news events. For more information from the original source of the news item, please follow the link provided in this article. View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
The Year in Security 2018
This Dark Reading Tech Digest explores the biggest news stories of 2018 that shaped the cybersecurity landscape.
Flash Poll
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
The transition from DevOps to SecDevOps is combining with the move toward cloud computing to create new challenges - and new opportunities - for the information security team. Download this report, to learn about the new best practices for secure application development.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-6487
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-18
TP-Link WDR Series devices through firmware v3 (such as TL-WDR5620 V3.0) are affected by command injection (after login) leading to remote code execution, because shell metacharacters can be included in the weather get_weather_observe citycode field.
CVE-2018-20735
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-17
** DISPUTED ** An issue was discovered in BMC PATROL Agent through 11.3.01. It was found that the PatrolCli application can allow for lateral movement and escalation of privilege inside a Windows Active Directory environment. It was found that by default the PatrolCli / PATROL Agent application only...
CVE-2019-0624
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-17
A spoofing vulnerability exists when a Skype for Business 2015 server does not properly sanitize a specially crafted request, aka "Skype for Business 2015 Spoofing Vulnerability." This affects Skype.
CVE-2019-0646
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-17
A Cross-site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability exists when Team Foundation Server does not properly sanitize user provided input, aka "Team Foundation Server Cross-site Scripting Vulnerability." This affects Team.
CVE-2019-0647
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-17
An information disclosure vulnerability exists when Team Foundation Server does not properly handle variables marked as secret, aka "Team Foundation Server Information Disclosure Vulnerability." This affects Team.