Why is the “secure” Telegram app quickly becoming a haven for hackers?


  • Cyberint & the security company Financial Time noticed a sharp increase in activity involving hackers on Telegram channels, some of which have tens of thousands of members
  • Cybercriminals use the Telegram platform to peddle stolen data and hacking tools, and to share information about recent data leaks that could lead to future attacks

When a platform surpasses a popularity level, bad cyber behavior lurks there, even on services that claim privacy and security as mantras. Telegram, the popular and supposedly secure messaging app, has over 500 million active users every month. However, the sad truth may be that Telegram is not as secure as the company’s marketing campaigns might suggest. The messaging platform has been a playground for hackers, new research shows.

Over the years, Telegram has gradually been touted as a secure alternative to the popular free WhatsApp chat app. The company has been criticized in the past, apparently doing the bare minimum to reduce revenge pornography Where counterfeit vaccination cards. To make matters worse, the new study has found Telegram to be an attractive home for the internet’s darker dwellers.

Thanks to recent research by the security company Cyberint in collaboration with the Financial Time, a sharp increase in cybercrime activity on Telegram channels has been highlighted, with some channels having tens of thousands of members. The cybersecurity company discovered that hackers were selling and sharing information about data breaches on Telegram because it is easy to use and low in moderation.

Telegram, the easy-to-access dark web?

Usually, these data dumps fall into the realm of the so-called “dark web” – a version of the Internet accessible only using specialized browsers like Tor and encrypted connections. Hackers find the dark web appealing because it lives in a corner of the deep web that is locked down from outside viewers and intruders.

All of these barriers come at a price, because not everyone can access the dark web. It’s there that The telegram matches the picture. It’s easy to download the app and create an account. The service’s “secret” chats use end-to-end encryption, for more confidentiality.

And while group chats don’t have the same protection, you still need a link or invite to enter. Telegram also allows massive group chats for up to 200,000 users. Such features have caused what Cyberint threat analyst Tal Samra called a “over 100% increase” in Telegram usage among hackers. “Its encrypted messaging service is increasingly popular among threat actors carrying out fraudulent activity and selling stolen data. Since it is more convenient to use than the dark web, ”he said.

What is the Telegram call to hackers?

According to the study, the explosion in Telegram adoption was sparked by recent changes in one of the app’s competitors, the Owned by Facebook WhatsApp. While Telegram and WhatsApp are both popular destinations for those looking for more privacy in their digital communications – both platforms offer at least some form of end-to-end encryption of the chat – the latter news, if under siege, privacy policy made the platform a little less appealing to users with questionable intentions.

The research service also found that mentions of certain terms hackers use when peddling stolen emails and passwords “quadrupled” between 2020 and 2021. FT The story also mentions a public channel (since deleted) called “combolist” – itself a reference to hacker terminology – where data dumps were sold or shared.

The channel had around 47,000 users when Telegram shut it down, a move that only came after FT inquired about its existence. The Cyberint study further found a market 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 fueling Telegram’s growth, Cyberint has discovered. Company researchers have noticed a massive increase in links to Telegram destinations shared on dark web forums over the past year, from just over 172,000 in 2020 to over 1 million this year.

The research results put Telegram in a precarious position and the platform has yet to respond to reports. With increasing signs that the company is looking to bring new money and finally become publicone wonders how long its supposedly lax moderation standards will be maintained.


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