How we smashed the networks

The opportunity

2018: The takedown of the Phantom Secure Network left a hole in the market for encrypted communications. More than 14,000 Phantom Secure devices existed in Australia. Criminals needed a new way to hide their communications from law enforcement.

The idea

The concept for operation IRONSIDE was the result of a partnership between the AFP and FBI after the take down of the Phantom Secure Network.

The development

The AFP built a capability that allowed law enforcement to access, decrypt and read communications on the ANØM platform, it was covertly run by the FBI.

The operation

ANØM was introduced into the market and distributed by criminal networks. The AFP built and trained computers to monitor messages for key criminal themes and threats.

The customers

The platform was introduced into criminal markets and was allowed to organically grow within organised crime.

The disruption

In 2019, the first arrests take place off Operation IRONSIDE intelligence.

The outcomes

2021: Operation IRONSIDE has significantly disrupted organised crime networks that threaten Australian communities. Criminals will have to consider alternative ways to communicate, taking greater risks.

The AFP will be relentless.
We will outsmart organised crime.
And, we will be a step ahead.

The device

Devices were made to look like a normal phone with the encrypted messaging app hidden behind a calculator app. The app had a variety of features including:

  • Self-expiring messages
  • Ability to take, pixelate and send photos to other users
  • Push to talk feature with voice alteration, and
  • Secure file storage.
Ironside device image