Law Enforcement Officers Hacked the Secure Messenger Exclu and Traced the Criminals

secure messenger Exclu
Written by Emma Davis

The Dutch police announced the liquidation of the secure messenger for encrypted communications Exclu, which was used by criminals.

Interestingly, before the closure of Exclu, law enforcement officers hacked the service and used it to monitor the activities of criminal elements for a long time.

Let me remind you that we also wrote that Ukrainian Cyber Police captured another group of ransomware distributors, and also that RaidForums Seized by a Joint Police Force.

The media also reported that American Authorities Closed the Bitzlato Cryptocurrency Exchange, Linking It with Conti and Hydra.

Exclu sold six-month subscriptions to its app for 800 euros and allowed users to exchange encrypted messages and media files (voice recordings, videos, images). Police believe the app had about 3,000 users, 750 of whom lived in the Netherlands.

This large-scale operation, which also involved Eurojust, Europol, the police of Italy, Sweden, France and Germany, consisted of two separate investigations that began in September 2020 and April 2022. As a result, in early February 2023, law enforcement officers conducted 79 searches in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium and arrested 42 people.

Apparently, two of the detainees were owners and managers of Exclu, while the remaining 40 people were users of the service, including operators of drug laboratories, from whom large quantities of drugs, firearms, as well as more than 4.3 million euros in cash and luxury goods were seized.

At the same time, the Dutch police report that its specialists managed not only to eliminate the infrastructure of the service, but also to hack Exclu, identify its users and read their messages for about five months. The authorities emphasize that they now have all the necessary data to continue investigations.

Interestingly, some of Exclu’s users were not criminals, but professionals working in various sensitive areas, including lawyers, investigators, notaries, and even doctors, for whom confidentiality at work was crucial. Now these people are advised to contact the police and request the deletion of their data from the seized servers.

The shutdown of Exclu appears to be similar to the shutdown of another encrypted communications platform, Encrochat, which was used by more than 60,000 criminals around the world. Let me remind you that in 2020, law enforcement officers also penetrated the Encrochat network and introduced malware on the company’s devices, which made it possible to read the messages of criminals before they were sent.

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About the author

Emma Davis

I'm writer and content manager (a short time ago completed a bachelor degree in Marketing from the Gustavus Adolphus College). For now, I have a deep drive to study cyber security.

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