- Security company Cyberint & the Financial Times noticed a sharp increase in the activity of hackers on Telegram channels, some of which have tens of thousands of members
- Cyber criminals use the Telegram platform to peddle stolen data and hacking tools, and to share information about recent data leaks that could enable future attacks
If a platform exceeds a certain level of popularity, bad cyber behavior will lurk there – even for services that claim privacy and security as their mantras. Telegram, the popular and supposedly secure messaging app, has over 500 million monthly active users. The unfortunate truth, however, could be that Telegram isn’t as safe as the company’s marketing campaigns might lead some to believe. New research has shown that the messaging platform was a playground for hackers.
Over the years Telegram has gradually been touted as a safe alternative to the popular free chat app WhatsApp. The company has been criticized in the past and has reportedly done what was necessary to curtail it Revenge pornography or forged vaccination cards. To make matters worse, the new study found that Telegram is an attractive home for the more shadowy dwellers of the internet.
By youngest research by the security company Cyberint in cooperation with the Financial Times, highlighted a sharp increase in cybercriminal activity via Telegram channels, with some channels having tens of thousands of members. The cybersecurity firm found that hackers sell and share information about data leaks on Telegram because it’s easy to use and not heavily moderated.
Telegram, the accessible dark web?
Normally, such data dumps belong in the domain of the so-called “Dark Web” – a version of the Internet that can only be accessed with special browsers such as Tor and encrypted logins. Hackers find the dark web attractive because it lives in a corner of the deep web that is closed to external observers and intruders.
All of these barriers come at a price, as not everyone can access the dark web. That’s where Telegram matches the picture. It’s easy to download the app and set up an account. The service’s “secret” chats use end-to-end encryption for additional privacy.
And while group chats don’t have the same protection, you still need a link or invitation to get in. Telegram also enables massive group chats with up to 200,000 users. Such features have resulted in what Cyberint threat analyst Tal Samra called a more than “100% increase” in telegram usage among hackers. “The encrypted messaging service is becoming increasingly popular with threat actors who engage in fraudulent activities and sell stolen data. Because it’s more convenient to use than the dark web, ”he said.
What is the Telegram call Hacker?
According to the study, the increase in Telegram adoption was due to recent changes at one of the app’s competitors, the Owned by Facebook Whatsapp. While Telegram and WhatsApp are both popular travel destinations for those looking for more privacy in their digital communications – the two platforms offer at least some form of end-to-end chat encryption – the latter new, if pressed, data protection declaration made the platform a little less attractive to users with questionable intentions.
The research branch also found that the mention of certain terms hackers use when sharing stolen emails and passwords “quadrupled” between 2020 and 2021 FT Story also mentions a (now removed) public channel called “combolist” – itself a reference to hacker terminology – in which data dumps were sold or shared.
The channel had around 47,000 users when Telegram closed it, a move that came afterwards FT asked about its existence. The Cyberint study also found a marketplace on Telegram for financial data, personal documents, malware and hacking guides, as well as access to online account credentials.
To top it off, the dark web itself is feeding Telegram’s growth, Cyberint found. The company’s researchers noted a massive surge in links to Telegram destinations shared on dark web forums over the past year, from just over 172,000 in 2020 to more than a million this year.
The research puts Telegram in a difficult position and the platform has yet to respond to the reports. With growing signs that the company is after bring in new money and go public at some pointone wonders how long his allegedly lax standards of moderation can continue to exist.