Messaging app Telegram leveraged by hackers for data sharing

There are numerous messaging apps that were originally intended to encrypt communications between users for privacy. However, those applications are also leveraged by criminals, terrorists, and various users for illicit purposes. Messaging app Telegram has reportedly become a hub for cybercriminals wanting to buy, sell, and share data they have stolen and the tools they use.

A new report claims that Telegram is essentially an alternative to the dark web. Details on the illicit use of the messaging application were uncovered by a group called Cyberint working together with the Financial Times. The investigation discovered an ever-growing network of hackers sharing data obtained from leaks and other sources.

The data is reportedly being shared in channels that sometimes have tens of thousands of subscribers. The tool is being harnessed by hackers and other cybercriminals partly because it has very little moderation and is easy to use. According to analysts at Cyberint, the use of Telegram by hackers has increased by 100 percent.

The robust encryption is a major reason why cybercriminals are leveraging the app, as it gives them protection from law enforcement. These nefarious users reportedly came to Telegram earlier this year after WhatsApp changed its privacy policy. For those unfamiliar, Telegram lets users share messages to multiple people using channels.

They're also able to create groups that are both public and private, providing easy access. While lots of traffic for Telegram is seemingly from nefarious users, the app has bragged it has more than 500 million active users and crossed the 1 billion threshold for downloads last month. Increasing use by hackers and other criminal groups is likely to bring increasing pressure on Telegraph to improve its moderation to thwart these users. Telegram is based in Dubai and is planning an IPO in the future.