Telegram is Harboring More Cyber Criminals after WhatsApp’s Policy Change

  • Emily Olague by Emily Olague
  • Last updated: September 20, 2021
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The popular messaging platform, Telegram is turning into a den of cybercriminals due to its signature encryption policy. Widely used as an alternative to WhatsApp, the platform has received fierce criticism for not taking adequate measures to fight against revenge porn, distribution of unconsented explicit images, or counterfeit vaccination cards. And making matters even worse, a new study found that it has become a hub for cybercriminals.

Telegram cybercriminals

According to a study conducted by Cyberint, Telegram is increasingly used for buying and selling data leaks because it’s user-friendly and not thoroughly moderated.

Previously, such data dumps and their trading was only reserved to the domain called the “dark web,” a collection of websites on an encrypted network that can only be accessed through a TOR or special browsers with complete anonymity.

However, accessing this platform is a complex procedure and does not guarantee entrance to just anyone! This is why cybercriminals are now turning to Telegram. The application is easy to use and can be downloaded by just anyone. But that’s not the only thing that makes it appealing to hackers. In fact, a major reason that Telegram is being used for cyber activities is due to its record for maintaining stellar user privacy and security. 

Yes! The application’s main selling feature is also the cause of its major flaw. Yeah, the irony is real! This drastic increase in the movement towards Telegram is due to WhatsApp’s problematic policy change that it tried to enforce on its users at the start of this year. While both messaging apps offer end-to-end encryption, the latest policy change of WhatsApp has made the platform less appealing to many users, including those with unsavory goals. Then where did all of these users go? Obviously, Telegram!

With its “secret” chats uses, stronger end-to-end encryption than WhatsApp, and absolutely no tabs on users’ messages, users are now migrating to Telegram for both private and business communication. Statistically, Telegram saw a 100 million user boom in 2021 and is expected to grow further as WhatsApp continues to disappoint its users. 

However, with this users’ migration also came a batch of individuals with nefarious aims: Cybercriminals, hackers, and phishing accounts now found a new platform to conduct their businesses.

According to Cyberint threat analyst Tal Samra, there has been over a “100 percent rise in Telegram usage among cybercriminals.” He said, “Its encrypted messaging service is increasingly popular among threat actors conducting the fraudulent activity and selling stolen data… as it is more convenient to use than the dark web.” The report discovered a four times increase in the use of words like “Email: pass” and “Combo” –the frequency is higher than what considers normal. In case you don’t know, the “Combolist” is a former public channel used for data dumps trading.

Telegram hackers group

After being informed of this situation, Telegram shut down around 47,000 users on its platform in an attempt to curb the security threat they posed. Moreover, it has been found that the platform is also home to various marketplaces for malware, hacking guides, personal documents, financial data, and online account credentials.

In fact, the dark web itself is responsible for Telegram’s rapid growth, according to the researchers at Cyberint. The cybersecurity research company observed a massive hike in links shared on the dark web that redirects to Telegram destinations between 2020 and 2021, increasing from more than 172,000 last year to over one million this year.