back to article Belgian cops crack down on encrypted phone network Sky ECC in 200 overnight raids as firm denies criminal ties

A series of police raids in Belgium have resulted in the apparent shutdown of the Sky ECC encrypted mobile phone network. The Brussels Times reported that 1,500 police workers were sent on 200 overnight raids, mostly in the Antwerp area. "Information gained from those conversations is what led to Tuesday's historic operation …

  1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

    When will these people ever learn?

    Simply use the same e-2-e encrypted services everyone else uses! If I were up to no good, I'd be burying my dodgy communications in something fairly standard like Signal or Telegram – or even WhatsApp, FFS. Why do they insist on being all gangsta with their pseudo-Bond-style gadgets? Fools.

    1. Google

      Re: When will these people ever learn?

      It has been suggested on these forums to build a device with a screen and camera and that is capable of encryption and decrypting short messages after preloading it with the required keys. Once a message is encrypted and generated into a QR code (potentially holding 4296 alphanumeric characters) on this device the message can be photographed and send via Signal using a bog standard phone. On the other end the same QR code is photographed, transformed back into a character set and decrypted.

      Et voila, the message can only be read on an air gapped device. Secure, until the guys in Cheltenham get their hands on one with the keys still on there and there is no way of revoking them.

    2. cornetman Silver badge

      Re: When will these people ever learn?

      I guess the criminals that are not stupid and using Telegram are still free and carrying on their nefarious activities. Thank goodness for stupid crooks though.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: When will these people ever learn?

        The same Telegram that was shown to have the world's crappiest encryption, home-brewed by s'kiddies?

        I wouldn't trust anything sensitive to something that's already had a security FAIL of that magnitude.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: When will these people ever learn?

      Mainly because even without access to the data, being able to subpoena the METADATA (which numbers contacted which other numbers and when) is sufficient to build a comprehsnive picture of the scale and detail of criminal organisations

      This is why the police love finding multiple phones when they bust someone - It ties previously unconnected groups together

    4. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Re: When will these people ever learn?

      If you don't want to let any trace, don't use electronic means of communication FFS

    5. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

      Re: When will these people ever learn?

      Their amateurs! Have they never watched Good Fellas?

      "Paulie hated phones. He wouldn't have one in his house. He used to get all his calls second hand, then you'd have to call the people back from an outside phone. There were guys, that's all they did all day long was take care of Paulie's phone call.

      Never talk on the phone, never send email or SMS, never post anything. Get in the car and drive over there, to a place you know is secure, and never the same place twice!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    17 tonnes?

    I wonder if they weighed the house it was in. The mobster that lost that is going to be very upset LOL.

    1. Chris G

      Re: 17 tonnes?

      "going to be very upset LOL."

      At a few million snorts/tonne, there are going to be quite a few grumpy people who are missing out on their whizz time.

      I can't help but wonder how much of that 17 tonnes by weight is baking soda or some other 'additive'?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 17 tonnes?

        When I was a kid in the 70's a friend was busted for having 2 lbs of grass - the problem was that he had half an ounce in a bag at the bottom of a tea tin in the kitchen. The dog found the tin, the cop opened the tin, opened the bag and put all the "evidence" back in the tin. At least in those days you only got six months in jail - it was just seen as "personal" use.

        A few years later the cops raided another friends house - they were having a party and had made a birthday cake, sitting on the kitchen table - the cops found nothing in the house and left the cake sitting on the kitchen table even though the dog kept going after it. We had a great evening :-)

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: 17 tonnes?

          "At least in those days you only got six months in jail - it was just seen as "personal" use."

          A first time offender with only enough for personal use might only get a telling off and confiscation these days. Probably not even a Police Warning.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 17 tonnes?

            You are entirely correct (for England & Wales). According to Cambridgeshire police's website:


            "Cannabis warning

            A cannabis warning cannot be issued to a person under 18 years of age. A warning can be issued by a police officer and does not have to take place at a police station.

            If an offender is caught a second time for the same offence, they should receive either a fixed penalty notice, simple caution or conditional caution.

            If caught a third time, they will be prosecuted."

            A first-time offender with a small amount will indeed probably only get a warning. It will be recorded though, and punishments will be escalated for repeat offences.

            1. Potemkine! Silver badge

              Re: 17 tonnes?

              Most of the states prefer we consume alcohol and tobacco instead of weed, both legal hard drugs that can be bought everywhere. Those drugs killing hundred of thousands of people in Europe each year doesn't seem to be a problem for our lawmakers.

        2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

          Re: 17 tonnes?

          You are Alice B. Toklas and I claim my £5.

        3. GeekyDee

          Re: 17 tonnes?

          As a loose tea loving person, I kept a small jar of Gunpowder Green Tea on my desk at work. Every once in a while a "friend" in security would send a newbie by to investigate it. We had a hot water heater (89C) in the break area that was great for tea. Love that tea, but it does look a bit, off?

    2. notyetanotherid

      Re: 17 tonnes?

      I had heard that drug use in the journalistic community was an issue but "seizing 17 tonnes of cocaine and €1.2m during a post-raid press conference" ... wow!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ann T Werp

    Just personal use Guvna!


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm guessing management won't sleep too well right now

    Let me see, you go and cater for criminals*. You sell a basic, probably cheapo Android knock off phone with some apps for VoIP and messaging at a hugely overinflated price, and then someone breaks it because, let's face it' it's not just the algorithm that has to be decent, you also have to know how to implement it.

    Ergo, now you have over 70,000 active customers *VERY* pissed off as they have either been arrested, might be arrested soon or have in general their activities disclosed to the police.

    And most of them are criminals.


    * No, I don't buy it that that was "accidental", given how their sales approach was reported.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    great PR opportunity, watch this space...

    encryption is EVIL, we must BAN IT OUTRIGHT! There was this CRIMINAL NETWORK in Europe, and they traded in (child pornography / drugs / weapons of mass destruction / British cod) and they used ENCRYPTION, etc, etc.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: great PR opportunity, watch this space...

      I was just musing over the thought that the left liberal arguments that its no-ones fault these systems are abused by criminals bears a distinct resemblance to the "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" arguments from the other extreme.

      1. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

        Re: great PR opportunity, watch this space...

        Guns do not kill people! Place a loaded gun on your coffee table with 6 people around it. If no one picks it up the gun will sit there forever and no one dies. Until some human picks it up with malicious intent it is an inanimate object.

        The same applies to the app developers. You can try and make the case that they "developed the app with the intent it would be used for criminal activity" but that is a stretch. Their defense will be "we developed the app for privacy, we cannot control what people do with it" You would need some evidence of premeditated collaboration between the devs and the criminals prior to the apps deployment.

        Shutting them down without that is dangerous government overreach.

  6. Naich

    I knew the hacks liked a bit of nose candy.

    "Police and prosecutors boasted of seizing 17 tonnes of cocaine and €1.2m during a post-raid press conference."

    Sounds like a wild press conference.

  7. ghp

    Not over yet

    The police now has a billion (ie. 1000000000) decoded messages to inspect. It is said there is some nervousness in a certain milieu.

  8. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Small fry

    "Police and prosecutors boasted of seizing 17 tonnes of cocaine and €1.2m during a post-raid press conference."

    The UK annual cocaine trade is estimated to be worth nearly £9billion per year alone

    This sounds like change from down the back of the sofa as far as the larger fish are concerned

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