According to Vice the FBI is using Google Pixel ‘Anom’ phones to catch criminals. But, what the heck is an ‘Anom’ phone? You may be wondering. An ‘Anom’ phone has the Anom messaging app which is concealed and encrypted. It also happens to be an FBI honeypot. So, how is it concealed?
It is kind of like having multiple profiles on your phone. On the one hand, if you enter a certain PIN you will see a standard Android setup. You may see apps on it that seem normal. Apps like Facebook, Netflix, Tinder, Instagram, etc. You know the normal apps that millions of people have on their devices.
However, the apps do not work when you click on them. So, that means the phone must be busted right? Well not really. If you take the same phone and reset it then use a different pin a different setup is shown. This time it is just a click, calculator, and settings icons.
The calculator conceals the messaging app. Now, after that long explanation, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with the FBI. Well after clicking the calculator on the screen the words “Enter Anom ID” and a password will pop up.
Google Pixel ‘Anom’ phones help FBI catch lots of criminals
Criminals were using this messaging app to communicate securely. However, in a surprise twist, the FBI and other international law enforcement agencies were monitoring the messages. These phones which the criminals were using to basically snitch on themselves were Google Pixels.
According to PhoneArena, most of these Pixel devices were either Pixel 3a or 4a devices. These “burner” Pixels did their job though. They tricked criminals into airing out their plans. These Pixel phones are running a ROM known as Arcane OS.
The Arcane OS can’t be flashed with anything else and seems like a secure phone. It has dual account logging, anonymous messaging, and even a secure wipe feature. The FBI was able to create a honeypot that included information from places like Germany and Lithuania.
Thanks to this genius plan from the FBI a ton of arrests were made. Now, plenty of criminals were using these devices will find themselves behind bars and off the streets. Many of the criminals who got caught got these phones from classified sites like Craigslist.
So, the main lesson here is that crime doesn’t pay. These criminals thought they were getting a deal on a cheap Google Pixel in order to communicate. Instead, it looks like they received a big dose of karma.