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
Higher Education: 15 Books to Help Cybersecurity Pros Be Better
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  12/12/2018
'PowerSnitch' Hacks Androids via Power Banks
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/8/2018
Worst Password Blunders of 2018 Hit Organizations East and West
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  12/12/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
10 Best Practices That Could Reshape Your IT Security Department
This Dark Reading Tech Digest, explores ten best practices that could reshape IT security departments.
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-2018-14623
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-14
A SQL injection flaw was found in katello's errata-related API. An authenticated remote attacker can craft input data to force a malformed SQL query to the backend database, which will leak internal IDs. This is issue is related to an incomplete fix for CVE-2016-3072. Version 3.10 and older is vulne...
CVE-2018-18093
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-14
Improper file permissions in the installer for Intel VTune Amplifier 2018 Update 3 and before may allow unprivileged user to potentially gain privileged access via local access.
CVE-2018-18096
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-14
Improper memory handling in Intel QuickAssist Technology for Linux (all versions) may allow an authenticated user to potentially enable a denial of service via local access.
CVE-2018-18097
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-14
Improper directory permissions in Intel Solid State Drive Toolbox before 3.5.7 may allow an authenticated user to potentially enable escalation of privilege via local access.
CVE-2018-3704
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-14
Improper directory permissions in the installer for the Intel Parallel Studio before 2019 Gold may allow authenticated users to potentially enable an escalation of privilege via local access.