Security News Journalist tells the story behind the FBI's secure phone startup 'Anom'

vtqhtr413

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Aug 17, 2017
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On today’s episode of Decoder, I sat down with Joseph Cox, one of the best cybersecurity reporters around. Joseph spent a long time working at Vice’s tech vertical Motherboard, but last year, after Vice imploded, he and three other journalists co-founded a new site, called 404 Media, where they’re doing some really great work.

Somehow, on top of all that, Joseph also found time to write a new book coming out in June called Dark Wire: The Incredible True Story of the Largest Sting Operation Ever, and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s basically a caper, but with the FBI running a phone network. For real.

Criminals like drug traffickers represent a market for encrypted, secure communications away from the eyes of law enforcement. In the early mobile era, that gave rise to a niche industry of specialized, secured phones criminals used to conduct their business.

Joseph’s done a ton of reporting on this over the years, and the book ends up telling a truly extraordinary story: After breaking into a few of these encrypted smartphone companies, the FBI ended up running one of these secure phone services itself so it could spy on criminals around the world. And that means the FBI had to actually run a company, with all the problems of any other tech startup: cloud services, manufacturing and shipping issues, customer service, expansion, and scale
 

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