Over the past year, Telegram has become an alternative to popular underground forums, allowing threat actors an easy channel of communication which they can align to their interests and goals.
Threat actors have also leveraged the messaging platform as a means of promoting, hosting, distributing, and executing malware.
For the uninitiated, Telegram was founded in 2013 and is an instant messaging application which bridges convenience with privacy and security.
The first half of 2022 has demonstrated an increase in the use of Telegram within the cyber threat landscape.
From LAPSUS$ using the application as a means of boasting attacks and recruiting insiders in March 2022, and Killnet using the platform to communicate their intentions of targeting certain countries amidst geopolitical tensions, it is almost certain this application is becoming a key component of the threat actor community.
Arguably one of the main reasons for an uptick in usage is the anonymity and privacy features Telegram boasts.
Such features allow threat actors free communication as opposed to underground forums, which regularly require administrator approval for postings.
Another lucrative feature of Telegram are ‘bots’, third-party applications, which run inside the platform.
Intel471 have reported that threat actors have been leveraging bots to facilitate malware delivery and to steal user credentials, enabling further exploitation.
Additionally, threat actors have openly promoted their malware-as-a-service (MaaS) operations, as seen by Eternity project, and use Telegram as a marketplace to manage and engage in illicit business.
Forecasts for the second half of 2022 suggest it is highly likely that Telegram will remain a key communication tool amongst threat actors, and features of the application will continue to be exploited for malicious purposes.
However, there is a realistic possibility that Telegram could react to the influx of criminality, causing threat actors to seek alternative platforms in the future.
Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).