PINDROP BLOG

Dutch Police Shut Down Encrypted Mobile Phone Network

Dutch police have seized servers and other equipment operated by Ennetcom, a communications provider in the Netherlands that operates an encrypted mobile phone service. The Dutch National Police Corps allege that the company was providing encrypted communications for criminal groups.

The police said they have copied the contents of several servers belonging to the company, both in the Netherlands and in Canada. Ennetcom provides a variety of secure communications products, including encrypted BlackBerry handsets. The company offers customized secure devices, with encrypted storage and encrypted email.

“Ennetcom is the only company in the world that offers encrypted BlackBerry devices with 3 layers of encryption. In addition to the BES BlackBerry encryption and standard S/MIME support package, we have built a Mobile Encryption Gateway. This is a closed system. Users can only communicate to other Ennetcom S/MIME MEG BlackBerry devices, not to any other random BlackBerry device nor to other BlackBerry security platforms,” the company’s site says.

In a statement, the Dutch national police said the network had about 19,000 registered users, who were notified of the seizure of the servers and other assets. They also said the network was known to be used by criminals.

“It is with the police and has been known that criminals extensively make use of the ability to communicate confidentially with each other. They do this by using custom phones equipped with special encryption software, Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) called. Communication between suspects organized crime is therefore hardly visible to investigators. This turned out criminal investigations into killings example, OMG and narcotic drug trafficking,” a translated version of the Dutch police statement says.

In a statement on its site, Ennetcom said that this is not the first time law enforcement agencies have targeted the company. The company has suspended its operations in the face of the new seizure and investigation.

“Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 revealed that judicial research is being done towards Ennetcom. There has been an international collaboration of various government agencies and Interpol in attempt to put our network down. Previously there have been attempts to put us down, amongst them the Dutch intelligence service, but they never succeeded (see Wikileaks),” the statement, which appears in a pop-up on the Ennetcom home page, says.

“Regarding the current investigation, Ennetcom is forced to suspend all operations and services for the time being. Ennetcom regrets this course of events and insinuations towards Ennetcom. It should be clear that Ennetcom stands for freedom of privacy! Because of security and privacy reasons Ennetcom chooses to keep all systems offline.”

Police in Toronto also were involved in the operation, seizing a BlackBerry Enterprise Server operating in that city that was part of the Ennetcom network.

“In Canada today, in partnership with the Toronto Police, a server temporarily decommissioned. Also this server has been copied,” the Dutch National Police Corps statement says.