Any Telegram user can attest to how secure the messaging service is and has been since its launch. This was even more evident earlier this year when a number of people opted to migrate to Telegram and leave WhatsApp whose reputation had been ruined. But it looks like that level of security is also benefitting some malicious actors who end up harming everyone else.
According to a recent investigation conducted by The Financial Times and cyber intelligence group Cyberint, there’s been a 100 percent-plus rise in Telegram usage by cybercriminals” recently. FT states that the rise in criminal activity on the app came after the app saw a huge rise in the number of users mentioned earlier. So it seems that the surge in user figures also brought in a big number of hackers with it.
As reported, there’s currently a swelling network of hackers sharing and selling data leaks in channels with tens of thousands of subscribers. The investigation found the number of times terms like “Email:pass” and “Combo” were mentioned in the app to have risen fourfold in a year.
These criminals are also selling financial information, such as credit card numbers, passport copies and hacking tools through the app.
“Its encrypted messaging service is increasingly popular among threat actors conducting fraudulent activity and selling stolen data … as it is more convenient to use than the dark web, said Tal Samra, a cyber threat analyst at Cyberint. “In addition to being more convenient than the dark web, Telegram is also less likely to be monitored by authorities.”
Luckily, Telegram seems to have acted swiftly by removing the channels where the massive datasets with email and password combos are being sold. This was after the company was notified of the problem by Financial Times.
In a statement, Telegram also said that it “has a policy for removing personal data shared without consent” and that it has an “ever-growing force of professional moderators” removing 10,000 public communities every day for violating its TOS. Earlier this year, those moderators had to monitor hundreds of channels to keep an eye out for calls of violence following the attack on the US Capitol.