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Operation Trojan Shield
Ironside · Greenlight · 8 June 2021 - under construction

Operation Trojan Shield (USA), also known as Operation Task Force Greenlight (Europe) and Operation Ironside (AU/NZ), was a joint covert operation of the law enforcement agencies of 16 countries, in which serious organised crime was attacked in an unprecedented way. By supplying criminals with tampered smartphones, in combination with the FBI-controlled ANOM network and cutting-edge software developed by the Australian AFP, the police was able to read the trusted communication of 12,000 smartphones of more than 300 criminal organisations worldwide [5].

The official shield of Operation Trojan Shield as used by the FBI, showing the flags of the participating countries.

The operation was started in 2018 and was led by the American FBI. Rather than hacking into an existing messaging service – like it was done with Phantom Secure and EncroChat – the FBI took control of small company called 'ANOM', and turned it into a worldwide operating honeypot.

After the Canadian secure telephone service Phantom Secure had been taken down by the FBI [6], it was anticipated that the criminal world would soon be looking for alternative solutions. It is then that they decided to take over ANOM. The interest in ANOM was initially small, starting with just 50 devices in an Australian beta test in October 2018, but the police soon discovered that all devices were used for criminal activities. The penetration of ANOM devices increased in mid-2019, and accelerated further after the European Police first took down EncroChat in June 2020 and then Sky ECC in March 2021 [7][8]. By May 2021, approx. 11,880 ANOM devices had been released, 9000 of which were actively being used. The sting operation culminated in a large number of location searches executed simultaneously around the globe on 7 and 8 June 2021.

The official logo of Operation Ironside as used by the Australian Federal Police

In the operation, the FBI worked closely together with the Australian AFP and, from October 2019, with the police organisations of 14 EUROPOL countries, led by the Netherlands and Sweden. In total, the police intercepted more than 27 million encrypted messages, enough for several years worth of investigations. The operation was revealed to the public in press conferences on 8 June 2021 [1]. It was also reveiled that the ANOM software had been developed by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), and that the Dutch National Police (KLPD) had developed special software tools for the identification of suspects and for filtering and analysis of the vast amount of data.


Facts and figures
  • Started
    October 2019
  • Revealed
    7 June 2021
  • Affected devices (telephones)
    ~ 11,800 (9,000 active)
  • Criminal organisations
    > 300
  • Countries
    > 100
  • Prevented liquidations
    > 100
  • Intercepted messages
    > 27,000,000
  • Languages
    45
  • Primary languages
    Dutch, German, Swedish
  • Duration
    18 months
  • Operations
    > 100 in the week before the revelation
  • Arrests 1
    > 800
  • Locations searched 1
    > 700
  • Weapons seized
    250
  • Police officers involved
    ~ 9000
Confiscated
  • Computers
  • Mobile phones
  • Weapons
  • Cars
  • Jewelry
  • Cash
    > US$ 48 million
  • Drugs
    > 32 tons
  • Luxury cars
    55
  1. By 8 June 2021.

Countries participating in Operation Trojan Shield, OTF Greenlight and Operation Ironside

Participating countries
Below is a list of the 16 countries that took part in the investigation. The leading countries are listed in bold. The initiating countries are listed in red. The European countries are joined in the the EUROPOL police organisation.

  Country Organisation Arrests LS 1 DL 2 PM 3 SW 4 M$ 5
AU Austrialia AFP 224 525 6 21 104 4.5
AU Austria              
CA Canada RCMP            
DE Denmark              
EE Estonia              
FI Finland PoF ~100          
DE Germany BKA >70 >150        
HU Hungary              
LT Lithuania              
NZ New Zealand NZP 35 37     4 1+3.7
NL Netherlands KLPD 49   25   8 1.9
NO Norway Kripos 7          
SC Scotland              
SE Sweden SPA 155     >10    
UK United Kingdom NCA            
US USA FBI, FDA            
     Total >800 >700     250 48
  1. Locations that were searched.
  2. Drugs locations that were dismantled.
  3. Estimated number of planned murders and liquidation that are have been prevented by this operation.
  4. Number of weapons seized
  5. Confiscated cash (+goods) in the equivalent of Millions of US Dollars.

Nomenclature
  • Operation Trojan Shield
    USA, FBI
  • OTF Greenlight
    Europe, Europol
  • Operation Ironside
    Australia, New Zealand
Earlier operations
  • 2018
    Phantom Secure (CA, RCMP)
  • 2020
    Encrochat (NL, FR, Europol)
  • 2021
    Sky ECC (NL, BE, FR, Europol)
References
  1. Europol, Operation Trojan Shield/OTF Greenlight
    YouTube, EUROPOL, 8 June 2021.

  2. Europol, 800 criminals arrested in biggest ever law enforcement operation against encrypted communication
    Press release, 8 June 2021.

  3. Joseph Cox, Trojan Shield: How the FBI Secretly Ran a Phone Network for Criminals
    Motherboard, 8 June 2021.

  4. NOS, Politie luisterde in talloze landen criminelen af via zelfverkochte telefoons
    NOS website, 7 June 2021.

  5. Wikipedia, ANOM sting operation
    Retrieved 8 June 2021.

  6. Wikipedia, Phantom Secure
    Retreived 8 June 2021.

  7. Wikipedia, EncroChat
    Retrieved 8 June 2021.

  8. Wikipedia, Sky Global
    Retrieved 8 June 2021.

  9. ANOM website
    Retrieved 8 June 2021.
Further information
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Crypto Museum. Created: Tuesday 08 June 2021. Last changed: Wednesday, 09 June 2021 - 07:57 CET.
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