IM Platforms Increasingly Used by Threat Actors in Place of Dark Web

Researchers at IntSight have discovered that IM such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Discord, IRC, and Jabber are being used by cybercriminals for advertising and putting their goods and services on sale. One of the major reason as to why cybercriminals are switching to these IM from the conventional ones is ‘law enforcement practices’; law enforcement operations have been targeting online darknet markets one after another. Earlier in 2017, the world’s largest web market, AlphaBay was taken offline, sending darknet users into chaos. Immediately after, the cyberspace witnesses the shut down of Hansa, another major darknet market. As more and more major web markets went offline due to the law enforcement penetrations, cybercriminals are wisely migrating to new platforms.

Although threat are loving IM platforms, the regular cybercrime sources such as dark web markets, credit card shops, and forums are still witnessing their web usual traffic. These platforms have more advantages such as chatbots, fewer rules, and automated replies due to their core nature, unlike IM platforms that are majorly meant for communication.

While giving insights, Etay Maor, IntSights CSO, said,
“Telegram appears to be experiencing the most growth, with more than 56,800 Telegram invite links shared across cybercrime forums and over 223,000 general mentions of the application across forums. Telegram is also the platform most often discussed in foreign language forums.”

“Financial threat actors and fraudsters exchange stolen carding information, selling or trading all kinds of credit card dumps, and publishing methods or techniques relevant for the fraud community. In addition, there is also a trade of physical items stolen or counterfeited from organizations in the retail industry.” He added.

“While the data itself is fully encrypted and law enforcement needs sophisticated algorithms in order to decrypt it, some countries have authorized law enforcement agencies to access the private information of their citizens if sanctioned by courts or other judicial authorities – including information that lives in IM platforms. Threat actors are worried about the cooperation between technology companies and law enforcement agencies, especially in the United States.” Maor further explained.

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