When a messaging app attracts the likes of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; the founder of the app is in exile; and countries are trying to ban its use, you know that something’s up. Researchers from Check Point investigated the app and discovered how and why Telegram became so popular, and why the dark side became its fan base.

Telegram represents both side of the coin, it seems. For individuals who live in countries where they are unable to speak freely, Telegram offers some cover. And for individuals who
engage in cybercrime, the messaging app lets them communicate and transact business in a more secure and accessible manner. According to Check Point researchers, its security capabilities set it apart from other messaging options.

“As a result, some of its hosted chat groups have become a useful alternative to the secretive forums on the Dark Web,” the researchers say.

Anyone who wants to engage in illicit transactions can take advantage of Telegram’s private and end-to-end encrypted chats instead of the exposed threads that are seen in online forums, say researchers. “If in the past several steps were required to ensure an anonymous connection to the Dark Web via the TOR platform, today any Telegram user can easily join channels with a single tap on their phone, while keeping their identity completely hidden.”

Some of the channels Check Point’s team discovered include ‘Dark Jobs,’ ‘Dark Work’ and ‘Black Markets.’ Within these channels are messages offering promises of high salaries, which could lure some who might otherwise not even consider such affairs or have access to these markets. What’s more, these channels promote the sale of stolen data, hacking tools and other cybercrime-related things, putting dangerous hacking potential in the hands of amateurs, as well as professionals.

The researchers investigating Telegram also discovered opportunities for the selling and purchasing of forged and counterfeit documents, such as IDs, passports, banking documents and more. According to Check Point, “The author of one of the posts even claimed to have connections inside the Russian Traffic Police Department and to be able to issue or update driving licenses of all categories.”

Get the full story at the Check Point blog.