The problem with extremist apps, websites, and social media is that those that join them are typically also those that believe conspiracy theories. In other words, they have a desire to believe what they want instead of fact checked sources and their gullibility makes them easy prey for cybercriminals. The popularity of apps such as Telegram and Signal may offer a lot of features and ease of use, but there is an ugly down side that is being exposed.
Telegram has become one of the most downloaded apps and is favoured by right wing extremists. It recently overtook Signal in the number one spot internationally, with over 500 million global users. The flaw in Telegram, Signal and even WhatsApp is that they aren’t as “secure” as the users think and any hacker using just a few resources can perform crawling attacks, collecting large scale sensitive data without any restrictions.
A study done by the University of Würzburg in Germany and the Technical University of Darmstadt used contact discovery services that invaded the privacy of billions of users. They were able to glean meta (personal) data that is typically stored in the user profile of the messenger service that included profile pix, status texts, nicknames, and the “last online” time of the user. Using data analytics, the criminals could analyze user behaviour which ended up showing that around 50% of WhatsApp users didn’t change default settings and that many of these also use Telegram and Signal. When the hackers match publicly available data along with the information taken from the messenger services they can build enough of a data profile to extend hacking abilities.
An article by Netsecurity stated:
“Cybercriminals are turning to Telegram due to its security capabilities
Check Point researchers have revealed that cybercriminals are increasingly exploiting the popular messaging app, Telegram, to exchange information, recruit new partners and evade authorities.”
Chat channels have become the latest focus for illegal activities such as the sale of forged legal documents and counterfeit documents including passports, banking docs and IDs. One of those selling made the claim of being able to issue drivers licenses in all categories due to his connections inside the Russian Traffic Police Dept.
The same Netsecurity article has indicated:
“The convenience of Telegram channels allows for threat actors and those aiming to take part in cybercrimes to communicate in a more secure and easily accessible manner. Although messaging applications have become an integral part of modern life and improved over the years to ensure the security of their user’s information, they are also being taken advantage of by those fleeing from prying eyes, and the law – putting personal and financial information at risk.”
Cybercriminals Prey on Telegram & Signal Users
“DaVinci Forensics maintains constant vigilance on all of the methods that cybercriminals use to interfere with and steal personal and business data and information. We diligently work with clients to advise and counsel so that they can protect their individual and proprietary information and maintain their privacy.”
– Sharon Knowles, CEO DaVinci Forensics