IntSights Cyber Intelligence, the industry’s first and only enterprise threat management provider that transforms tailored threat intelligence into automated security operations, today released its latest threat intelligence trend report, Messaging Applications: The New Dark Web. The research suggests that the recent crackdown on popular dark web markets AlphaBay and Hansa is driving cybercriminals to migrate to messaging apps Discord, ICQ, Skype, Telegram and Whatsapp.
“The anonymity promised by dark web networks such as TOR and i2p was the key reason for their popularity among cyber criminals,” said Guy Nizan, IntSights CEO and co-founder. “Now that the dark web is no longer safe for hackers and threat actors, they are moving to messaging platforms and brazenly conducting their illicit activities on the same apps that millions use every day.”
The most popular messaging apps have all implemented a group chat feature, which individuals can join by clicking on an ‘invite link.’ IntSights analyzed thousands of black markets, text storage/paste sites, hacking forums, IRC channels, apps and social media pages, and discovered a steady increase in threat actors inviting cyber-crime forum users to join their groups. The company estimates that up to hundreds of thousands of users of prominent mobile messaging apps are using them to trade stolen credit cards, account credentials, malware and drugs, as well as exchanging hacking methods and ideas.
The report includes:
A detailed review of today’s most common cyber-criminal activities
Examples of invite links for each app
Comprehensive lists of the criminal groups active on each app, including membership numbers
A month-by-month breakdown of invite links shared on cybercrime-associated platforms over the past year
A brief discussion on the increasing use of TOR and TOR-based platforms on mobile devices
The research indicates that, where cyber-criminal communication once required an individual to have the equipment and knowledge necessary to navigate the dark web, today’s black market is accessible to anybody with a cell phone. This could lead to a proliferation of low-level cybercrime conducted by amateurs. The report also concludes that the monitoring of online criminal activity will become much more challenging as threat actors move from large and centralized black markets and forums to small, closed and distributed networks based on social media groups and/or messaging apps.