The most popular communication tool for fraudsters, cybercriminals and other digital crooks probably isn’t what you’d think.
While the thought of cybercriminals talking shady dealings might conjure up imagery of a digital back-alley chat in the depths of the dark web, the reality appears to be much more … well, innocuous.
According to a new report on cybercriminal communication strategies from security company Flashpoint, it turns out the number one hangout for the digital world’s most wanted is none other than Microsoft’s Skype.
“Skype is by far the most frequently mentioned messenger across the language communities in this study,” wrote Flashpoint. “Skype was among the top five messengers in all of the language groups, [except] French, Persian and Chinese language communities.”
This means that for Russian, Spanish, French, Arabic and English-speaking cybercriminals, Skype is the go-to communication platform.
Other popular communication apps among cybercriminals include WhatsApp, Jabber and Telegram.
What makes Skype use especially odd among the list of chat methods for cybercriminals is that it lacks the end-to-end encryption of the others. Flashpoint noted in its report that the application’s popularity is likely related to the fact that Skype was bundled with a number of devices.
“Given the caliber of cybercriminals we’re monitoring, I thought they would be using the most secure forms of communications, but a lot are happy to use Skype,” Flashpoint Research Director Leroy Terrelonge III told Fortune Magazine. “It really shows these criminals, who we build up in our head as super bad guys, get lazy and use tools that are easy to use.”
Flashpoint reportedly collected the data for its report by monitoring activity and information on dark web forums. While cybercriminals can communicate directly on the dark web, the forums are likely to be taken down and conversation data lost — which is why many also choose to use other applications as well.