Anom: The FBI’s Phone Company

Encrypted communications are important for everyone, even if you have nothing to hide. But they’re also important when you’re trying to hide global criminal operations. Drug smugglers and money launderers have special needs when it comes to secure messaging. Several phone companies were created to address this market. Unfortunately for the criminals, the most popular one – Anom – was secretly run by the FBI. Today Joseph Cox from 404 Media will tell us about this astoundingly audacious sting operation, which is the basis for his book, Dark Wire.

Interview Notes

Further Info

Table of Contents

Use these timestamps to jump to a particular section of the show.

  • 0:00:54: Migrating to Mastodon
  • 0:02:24: Embracing the dark… mode
  • 0:02:45: Countdown to 400
  • 0:03:28: Interview setup
  • 0:04:30: How did this all start with you on an obscure forum for criminals?
  • 0:08:34: What was Operation Trojan Shield?
  • 0:10:49: How did the FBI start a secure phone company?
  • 0:12:41: What were some of Anom’s key tech features?
  • 0:15:26: Where did they get the Arcane Operating System?
  • 0:17:56: How did the ‘duress’ feature work?
  • 0:20:18: How did Anom copy encrypted messages without being detected?
  • 0:24:35: How were these phones marketed to criminals?
  • 0:28:10: What does these phones cost?
  • 0:30:09: What were the legal aspects for this multi-national operation?
  • 0:34:49: How did they use this intelligence without revealing the source?
  • 0:39:38: Did the criminals ever suspect the phones?
  • 0:42:04: How did this all come to an end?
  • 0:46:14: So, are we ‘going dark’ or not?
  • 0:49:27: What lessons did the FBI take away from all this?
  • 0:51:36: Can we still trust things like Signal and Proton?
  • 0:55:39: What’s your next big story or book?
  • 0:58:09: Interview end notes
  • 1:03:12: Looking ahead