Telegram and Criminal Usage: Who Knew?

September 27, 2021

Why would cyber criminals and regular run-of-the-mill criminals use a message app which was able to encrypt messages, enable “transactions,” and support file attachments? (A file attachment could be malware, an image one would not show a grade school class, or a video with semi-interesting behavior on display.)

Telegram Has Seen a Sharp Rise in Cybercriminal Activities, Report Says” reveals this previously unknown factoid. Astounding. I learned:

Cybercriminals have been using Telegram for years, because it’s encrypted and easy to access. According to a recent investigation conducted by The Financial Times and cyber intelligence group Cyberint, though, there’s been “a 100 percent-plus rise in Telegram usage by cybercriminals” recently. And FT says the rise in criminal activity on the app came after users flocked to it following a change in WhatsApp’s privacy policy.

Yep, Facebook — again.

The write up did not make clear that:

  • Telegram has reached some rapprochement with Russia’s telecommunications authority.
  • Encryption at scale creates interesting challenges for law enforcement, intelligence, and regulatory entities
  • Fosters a wide range of criminal activities; for example, recruiting individuals for illegal activities, dissemination of proscribed content, and coordinating distributed cyber crime actions.

Is there a solution? Not an easy one I fear.

Stephen E Arnold, September 27, 2021


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