Manage episode 298124413 series 1107025
The FBI Weaponized Google Pixel 4a Phones!
If you look into buying a used Google Pixel 2a, I've got some news for you. The FBI has been very busy, and they've conned the con man. I love this story. The FBI has been trying to track bad guys for a very long time, and there've been several ways they've done it.
We know obviously about phone taps. We've seen those before the old days. I don't know if you've ever been to one of the original. Telephone switching stations were all not even original, but the types they had in the late sixties and early seventies. I remember going to see one, and all of these switches were going.
[00:00:43] People were dialing the phones and everything. It was just so cool. And back then, to trace a phone call, what they had to do is find the original. Sore. So they would go to that row, that column, that exact little unit that was hooked up directly to your phone. And then they would see, okay, this is in position this, and then go to that next switch.
[00:01:08] Okay. Position that next switch, position that, and go all the way through. That's the really older days, not the old days where you had somebody that was at a switchboard doing it. Nowadays, of course, it's all done by computers. The telephone company turns your voice into a digital signal, and it's usually done right in your local neighborhood.
[00:01:29] It isn't even done at the central office anymore. So by the time your voice is outside the central office, it's digital. It's hauled on nowadays, even partially an internet protocol. Network. They used to use different protocols back in the day. And so, it makes it quite easy for them to tap your line. Now, of course, there's the legal side of this.
[00:01:53] Do they have the legal right to do it to the need a court order or what kind of a court order? Do they need it, right? All of that stuff. But that is the side. It's effortless to find out where calls went, where they came from, and to listen in because it's just digital—Data's completely copyable with absolutely no particular problems at all in copying it.
[00:02:17]Last month. The FBI and the Australian federal police acknowledged that they had indeed been working on this encrypted device. And the company was called a nom, which is a fake company and a nom sole. 12,000 smartphones to criminal syndicates around the world. That's the wording that the police used.
[00:02:45] So these were being sold as secure devices. They did things like they removed the cell leader, modem functionality they'd changed the boot ROMs. They removed the GPS. So the idea was, Hey, you missed your badge. You can use one of our Anom phones, and it's using a special version of the Android operating system, and you can send messages back and forth.
[00:03:10] It's a completely secure messenger service with end-to-end encryption, right? Like we're always being promised. And so what happened is bad guys started referring. Bad guys to this, right? Cause if they wanted to talk to the other guy, they both needed these Anom phones. Otherwise, they wouldn't be able to talk to each other.
[00:03:31]And so they were recommending the use of these phones to their friends that were in the illegal businesses as well. So this I'm just chocolate is so great. So the FBI weaponized. Android phones, at least this particular model of it. And there's a whole community in the Android world. It doesn't exist in the iPhone world because this is much harder to do in the iPhone world, but they call themselves the model.
[00:04:03] Community. And so they'll get a phone from some vendor. They'll make some changes to it that led to maybe change networks or do other fancy things. So they, after the FBI, used some of this technology. The modding community and did some just amazing things with this custom rom. Now you're going to love this part.
[00:04:24] Okay. So when you boot this phone up, this is according to ARS Technica. The phone will have, of course, a little boot screen and. The highest custom from here is the boot loader and other things, but it showed an arcane, oh, S boot screen that's the name, arcane O S and every place, the normal Android distribution that comes from Google with the.
[00:04:52] B I's arcane. Oh, west green. It's just phenomenal that these guys would do this and would fall for it. So the FBI told the criminals, Hey alleged criminals, Hey, these are secure devices, the really focused on security, and there is a pin scrambling fee. What would happen if on your phone?
[00:05:14]You might enter pin some phones, you might use a fingerprint, or he might use a face ID. This was a security feature. And what happened is normally you've got what, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0. And you type in your pin, and off you go, what this did, is it scrambled it? So it might be nine too.
[00:05:34]Just the scramble of the digits up so that when you enter your pin, you're not always touching the screen in the same place so that people could not guess your code from the fingerprints you're leaving behind. Now, this is also interesting. It, this is a great way to do it. If you're doing it for real, having to run an anonymous phone, they had two different interfaces on the phone, and a different one would pop up depending on. Pin you typed into the lock screen. So the first pin would show a bunch of non-functional apps that are pretty popular in the app store, like Tinder, Instagram, Facebook, Netflix, candy crush games.
[00:06:18] So if somebody is checking out your phone, forcing you to unlock it, they're not going to find budge. And by the way, none of those things work. But. If I had designed it, I would have made them so that they would work. So you can fool some of us by trying to rob us and steal your phone.
[00:06:32] The second pin you could enter tells you chose your pins, but it was supposed to be the secure section. She didn't have the phone. So it had a clock, a calculator, and the settings. But the calculator app actually opened a login screen to a nom as an anonymous. And that, again, the bad guys are told all that's a secure, encrypted way to chat.
[00:06:57]This is just amazing. So they will do use that. So they go into the calculator app and now allowed them to chat with their friends. But what they did not realize. Is, it was actually sending all of the messages also un-encrypted to the FBI. Okay, absolutely amazing. Amazing. So now, some of these bad guys are selling their phones online.
[00:07:28] I remember I warned you at the very beginning. If you're going to buy a pixel for a, you want to listen to this first because the bad guys are selling. Their phones are online. And so, several people have been trying to figure it out—some posts on Reddit and elsewhere. You guys know how to deal with this arcane.
[00:07:48] S, how can I reset this? What should I do? Okay. A lot of confused people. How do I fix this thing? You're not going to be able to fix it. Okay. By the way, this thing I think is really cool because the guy who he bought it legit guy bought it use. You said the installed operating system is arcane O S 10.
[00:08:06] The system updater says that Archana, YC 11 is available for download, but I don't want to do it in case it makes something even harder to fix. So maybe the FBI is bad. At sending out updates and fixes, most of the Google Android vendors are out there, and I'm just laughing all the way through here.
[00:08:27]So, there are some things that a tech-savvy user should know. So I want you guys to pay attention to this, particularly if you're using an Android device. So the first thing is when you start up a newer Android phone when it's made in the last few years, The first thing that happened is that Google runs something called verified boot, which makes sure the operating system has not been modified.
[00:08:58] So, the operating system from the device manufacturer will be signed using a cryptographically secured. What was happening here is these devices were failing verified boot, of course, because the FBI had modified the boot ROMs. And if your device fails, verified boot, your Android device either could be an unlocked boot loader or a relaunch boot loader with tampered software.
[00:09:27] It's going to show a message. And, in this case, the FDA FBI devices have a message that says your device is loading a different operating system, complete with their yellow exclamation point icon and a link for Google support pages. Phenomenal. And by the way, the article I'm sending this out in my newsletter, but it says.
[00:09:54] How resistance changes. Google has an order. So it sent them to the legitimate Google support. So there you go. There's a perfect little piece of advice right now. The FBI changed many Android operating systems and tripped out many Android settings that might've revealed something about the fact that it really was a spy device system settings for app storage, and accounts have been removed.
[00:10:23] So pay attention, right? If your machine boots up, the plane's about the bootloader, you've got a problem, and it isn't just Android. Obviously, Apple will do that. The newer versions of windows are starting to do that as well with TPMS, and windows 11 is really going to bring a lot of that to the forum.
[00:10:44] Hey, you're listening to Craig Peterson, and you can find me online. Craig peterson.com. Check it out and stick around.