There are plenty of messaging applications that were created with the intention of encrypting user messages for privacy but Criminals, terrorists, as well as other users, utilise those applications for illegal purposes. Telegram has been used by cybercriminals for years since it is encrypted and simple to use. However, according to a recent study by The Financial Times and cyber intelligence firm Cyberint, “there’s a 100% plus a surge in Telegram usage by cybercriminals” recently.
According to the report, Telegram is essentially a dark web alternative. An ever-expanding network of hackers was identified during the investigation, sharing data gained from leaks and other sources.
Earlier this year, WhatsApp asked its users to accept a revised policy that allowed it to share data with its parent firm, Facebook. Users were furious, and WhatsApp was forced to clarify that it would still be unable to see their private messages. Despite this, users went to rivals that offered secure equivalent chat capabilities due to which Telegram, has led to an increase in criminal activities conducted through the app.
Investigators claim that a vast network of hackers is sharing and selling data leaks in channels with tens of thousands of members. Over the last year, the app’s mentions of “Email:pass” and “Combo” have apparently increased fourfold. There are 300,000 to 600,000 email and password combinations for gaming and email services in certain data dumps floating on the app. Through the app, cybercriminals are also selling financial data such as credit card numbers, passport copies, and hacking tools.
They can also form both public and private groups, allowing for easy access. While a substantial chunk of Telegram’s traffic appears to come from malicious users, the app boasts that it has more than 500 million active users and recently passed the 1 billion download milestone.
Tal Samra, a cyber security analyst at Cyberint said, “Its encrypted messaging service is increasingly popular among threat actors conducting the fraudulent activity and selling stolen data… as it is more simple to use than the dark web.” Telegram is less likely to be monitored by authorities, as well as being more handy than the dark web, according to Samra.
After being notified by The Financial Times, Telegram has taken down the channel where enormous datasets with email and password combinations are being sold. The company also said in a statement that it “has a policy for removing personal data shared without consent” and that it has an “ever-rising force of professional moderators” that remove 10,000 public communities every day for breaking its terms of service.
Hackers and other criminal groups are increasingly using Telegram, putting pressure on the company to strengthen its moderation to thwart these users.