El Chapo’s Encryption Was Bypassed After His IT Contractor Was Turned

Date: 16 Feb 2019 Category : | Source: Nederlandse politie tapte anderhalf jaar lang alle communicatie van Mexicaanse drugsbaron ‘El Chapo’ | Author: Graham Penrose

In 2011 Joaquín Guzmán’s [alias ‘El Chapo’] IT contractor provided law enforcement with the encryption keys to the drug lords BlackBerry system. Christian Rodriguez was only 21 when he started working for the Sinaloa Cartel and the trove of audio he enabled the FBI to collect will send the drug trafficker to The United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) Florence “SuperMax” for life.

The act took place during a hosting move of the systems servers from Canada to the Netherlands. The contractor informed his erstwhile employers that the move was routine and required as part of a general upgrade but also to add a number of new risk mitigation elements to the configuration.

As a result in 2011 and 2012 the Dutch police tapped the Mexican drug lords communications and forwarded the information to the FBI. This was the first time in years that anyone in the law enforcement or the intelligence community had heard El Chapo’s voice. During the eavesdropping the investigators got extensive insight into the previously opaque organization.

El Chapo also had his IT contractor install the FlexiSPY spyware on the mobile devices of his wife and girlfriends. The FBI also used this software as an attack vector to backdoor the various devices. In an ironic twist this in effect turned his paranoia inspired backdoor on his “special ladies” mobile phones against him.

According to Crypto-Gram [February 15, 2019] by Bruce Schneier, CTO, IBM Resilient “And it doesn’t have to be with the IT person’s permission. A good intelligence agency can use the IT person’s authorizations without his knowledge or consent. This is why the NSA hunts sysadmins

Further Reading

Meet IT Whiz Kid Who Took Down El Chapo

Dutch police spent a year and a half collecting all communications from Mexican drug baron ‘El Chapo’ Nederlandse politie tapte anderhalf jaar lang alle communicatie van Mexicaanse drugsbaron ‘El Chapo’

El Chapo’s Encryption Defeated by Turning His IT Consultant

El Chapo Trial: How a Colombian I.T. Guy Helped U.S. Authorities Take Down the Kingpin

Inside the NSA’s Secret Efforts to Hunt and Hack System Administrators

Slashdot Thread The Feds Cracked El Chapo’s Encrypted Comms Network By Flipping His System Admin

Hacker News Thread The Feds Cracked El Chapo’s Encrypted Comms Network by Flipping His System Admin

Boing Boing Post El Chapo went down because his sysadmin sold him out

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