Telegram has emerged as an alternative dark web and increase cybercrime activities


New research shows that the Telegram platform has become a hub for cybercriminals looking to buy, sell and share stolen data and hacking tools, as the messaging application has emerged as an alternative to the dark web. An investigation by cyber intelligence group Cyberint found a bloated network of hackers sharing data leaks across the popular messaging platform, sometimes in channels with tens of thousands of subscribers, tempted by the ease of use and light oversight. In many cases, the content is similar to that of marketplaces across the Dark Web, a group of hidden websites popular with hackers that are accessed using specific anonymizers.

Cyberint said, we recently saw a 100 percent rise in cybercriminals’ use of the app. The encrypted messaging service is increasingly popular among the threat actors who engage in fraudulent activity and sell stolen data because it is more convenient to use than the dark web.

The increase in activity comes as users flocked to the encrypted chat app earlier this year after changes to WhatsApp's privacy policy prompted many to look for alternatives. Launched in 2013, Telegram allows users to broadcast messages to followers across channels, or create public and private groups that are easily accessible to others. Users can also send and receive large data files, including text and zip files, directly via the app.

Telegram is easier to use than the dark web

The platform said it had more than 500 million active users, and topped 1 billion downloads in August, according to data from SensorTower. But its use by the cybercriminal world could increase pressure on the platform to enhance oversight of its content. It is planning an initial public offering in the future and is exploring bringing ads to its service.

According to Cyberint, the number of references on the platform to "email:pass" and “combo” the language used by hackers to refer to sharing stolen email lists and passwords has quadrupled over the past year to nearly 3,400. And on one of the channels of the public platform, which has more than 47,000 subscribers. Hackers sell or distribute large amounts of data for hundreds of thousands of leaked usernames and passwords.

A post titled “Combo List Gaming HQ” displayed up to 300,000 emails and passwords. He said they are useful for hacking video game platforms such as Minecraft, Origin, or Uplay. Another post claimed that he had 600,000 logins for users of the services of the Russian Internet group Yandex. However, email password leaks are only a small part of the worrying activity in the Telegram market. The research found that other types of data used include financial data such as credit card information. And copies of passports and credentials for bank accounts and sites such as Netflix.

Cyberint said: “Cybercriminals share malware, exploits, and hacking evidence via the app.

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