Criminal Use Of Hosted Group Chats, or Channels, On Encrypted Apps
Date: 13 Apr 2019 Category : Secure Communications - The Importance of Selling to Businesses not Criminals | Author: Graham Penrose
Cyber criminals are branching out from the dark web and into consumer encrypted messaging apps to conduct their “business”. The wider use by criminals of encryption in mainstream apps is growing dramatically after several high profile take downs of criminal messaging networks like Phantom Secure. With the demise of several Dark Web marketplaces, like Hansa Market and Alpha Bay, cyber criminals are turning to mobile messaging apps to do their bidding and attenpt to evade the authorities.
Cyber criminals are using hosted group chats on encrypted apps known as ‘channels’ to broadcast messages to an unlimited numbers of subscribers. While the chat messaging history can be viewed publicly, responses to public messaging can be done privately giving cyber-criminals more opportunities to disguise their activities. This enables threat actors to have private end to end encrypted conversations while their identities remain hidden as opposed to dark web conversations that left elements of the communications exposed.
Researchers spotted illicit “job offers” in these channels that were colour coded. Dangerous or risky jobs likely having legal risk were marked a different colour than those that were less “risky”. Researchers also spotted stolen documents or hacking tools on offer.
“The convenience of Telegram channels in particular 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.” from Cybercriminals are turning to Telegram due to its security capabilities
Governments are already looking into new ways to combat this kind of use of these encrypted apps. Some of the tactics will of course erode the privacy of “normal” users.