Telegram has been rapidly growing in the recent year. Part of it is normal growth, and part of it is an influx of criminals choosing to use it over the dark-net.
The Rapid Criminal Growth
Findings made by cybersecurity expects reveal that cyber-criminals are also switching to telegram. Millions of records of user data have already been leaked on different telegram groups and channels that hosts thousands. This includes personal and financial information.
Researchers also revealed that these hackers are using Telegram as a tool to host discussions and create plans. Large data dumps that are also planned on the platform. Such dumps place a large number of victims under risk as fraudsters can have direct contact with them.
Reports also revealed that telegram is home large scale illicit trading. These are now called telegram marketplaces. Such marketplaces host large categories of information that can be used maliciously. Other products are also common on such markets.
Researchers managed to gain special access to some telegram channels. This allowed them to witness various illicit trades between users take place. The researchers also came across hackers sharing large amounts of information. Some with over 10,000 unique victim records. The hackers then went on to discuss the best ways to employ that data in a cyber-attack.
A lot of speculation over the cyber-criminal preference for Telegram over the dark-net has been risen. In reality, many users just prefer telegram for basic reasons. The low barrier to entry as there is no vendor bond and the stability. With all the recent DDoS attacks on dark-net markets and all the exit scams it comes as no surprise.
Additionally, Telegram has not been suffering from law enforcement crackdowns as much. This aspect has attracted even more cyber-criminals to the platform. Some tech-disadvantaged criminals that find it difficult to access the dark-net also use telegram.
A Host of Illicit Activities
Cybersecurity experts are insisting that Telegrams criminal growth should be taken more seriously. A large number of recent law enforcement activities have linked telegram users to the dark-net criminals. As it turns out, the dark-web style usage of Telegram has been noticed by law enforcement.
A recent report by NortonLifeLock revealed that the latest pandemic it partly responsible for the growth. As it turns out, the report discovered that amid the pandemic many dark-net users started to move to telegram. The list of items on sale ranged from drugs, to digital goods and even coronavirus vaccines.
The analysis by the consumer cyber-security leaderwent on to make more highlights. It was revealed that telegram could have many important uses as-well. As noted, telegram is used by political dissidents to operate under the radar of authoritarian regimes. One example was Hong-Kongs pro-democracy movement.
On the other hand, telegram has also been used to organize more serious and unethical crime. Some examples are modern slavery and child abuse. A recent case is the Nth Room scandal in South Korea that affected about 74 underage victims. The victims were forced to upload explicit material of themselves into telegram chatroom's. About 260,000 users had access to the chatroom's that were paid using cryptocurrency.
Additionally, back in 2020 a man in India was arrested for creating groups for child sex abuse material. The man, arrested by the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) reportedly created 20 such groups.
Telegram has witnessed a massive spike in criminal activity in the recent year. Although telegram has been used by criminals in the past, the latest pandemic has really boosted its growth. Users seem to prefer it over dark-net platforms due to stability and ease of use. In reality, telegram is just a communication app and the government can easily step in and wipe the market. Like with most dark-net markets, it is unclear what the future holds for telegram marketplaces.