Telegram Data Leak Exposes Millions of Records on Darknet

  •  
  •  
  •  
  • 2
  •  
  •  
  •  
    2
    Shares

Encrypted-messaging app Telegram suffered a massive data leak that exposed the personal data of millions of users. A rival to WhatsApp, Telegram allows customers to privately exchange end-to-end encrypted texts, calls, voice notes, and videos. But vulnerability in its contact import feature compromised millions of records, including phone numbers and user IDs, which were then leaked onto the darknet.

Russian tech publication Kod.ru was the first to report the issue, saying that personal information like user identities and phone numbers have been posted on a darknet forum. The database file size is about 900 megabytes. According to reports, the messenger app service acknowledged the existence of a data breach, which occurred after exploiting the built-in contacts import feature during registration.

However, the company added that most of the records are outdated, with 84% of data entries collected before mid-2019. Furthermore, the majority of accounts in the database contain irrelevant information. Telegram also revealed that 70% of the exposed accounts were from Iran, while the remaining 30% belonged to users from Russia.

A company spokesperson told Cointelegraph that the contact import vulnerability is a cause of concern to every similar messaging app, including competitors WhatsApp. “Unfortunately, any contacts-based app faces the challenge of malicious users trying to upload many phone numbers and build databases that match them with user IDs – like this one,” the representative expressed.

They also added that the database only contained information on users’ phone numbers and Telegram IDs, with no data like passwords, messages, or other sensitive information present. The spokesperson emphasized that the accounts weren’t breached.

Not the First Leak

The current data leak isn’t Telegram’s first rodeo. In August 2019, the company was at the center of controversy when a bug exposed the phone numbers of Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigners. The technical issue was found in the app’s group messaging feature, allowing Chinese authorities to identify and locate protesters.

Although China banned Telegram in 2015, pro-democracy supporters in Hong Kong managed to bypass restrictions and use the messaging app. Privacy-friendly Telegram is popular among the protesters because it conceals communications from the Chinese government’s intrusive eyes. However, it turned out that the bug can exploit public groups, thus exposing members’ phone numbers, even if they opted to keep them private.

Internet Society Hong Kong Chapter Director Chu Ka-cheong said that phone numbers have always been an issue with Telegram because it uses them as identifiers. Other secure messaging platforms do the same thing as well. But he admitted that they were surprised when they found out that setting who can see a phone number to Nobody “still allowed users who saved your phone number in the address book to match phone numbers to public group members.”

As a result of the data leak, Telegram rolled out a new feature in September 2019 that allows you to show your phone number to nobody at all. The new option ensures that “random users who add your number as a contact are unable to match your profile to that number.”

But as the latest leak shows, synching and importing contacts on Telegram remains an issue.

Several online sources offer tips on how to increase your online privacy, anonymity, and security. A VPN, for example, reroutes your traffic, changes your IP address, and encrypts your data.

The following two tabs change content below.

3 thoughts on “Telegram Data Leak Exposes Millions of Records on Darknet

  • September 1, 2020 at 9:02 pm
    Permalink

    Isn’t that the instagram logo?

    • September 2, 2020 at 10:46 am
      Permalink

      yes it was, thank you for pointing out our error

  • September 1, 2020 at 1:36 pm
    Permalink

    let them run to the utopia ecosystem. there is no other alternative to telegram(and TOR too).

Comments are closed.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

The __cfduid cookie is used to identify individual clients behind a shared IP address and apply security settings on a per-client basis.

cookie_notice_accepted and gdpr[allowed_cookies] are used to identify the choices made from the user regarding cookie consent.

For example, if a visitor is in a coffee shop where there may be several infected machines, but the specific visitor's machine is trusted (for example, because they completed a challenge within your Challenge Passage period), the cookie allows Cloudflare to identify that client and not challenge them again. It does not correspond to any user ID in your web application, and does not store any personally identifiable information.

__cfduid, cookie_notice_accepted, gdpr[allowed_cookies]

Advertising

DoubleClick by Google refers to the DoubleClick Digital Marketing platform which is a separate division within Google. This is Google’s most advanced advertising tools set, which includes five interconnected platform components.

DoubleClick Campaign Manager: the ad-serving platform, called an Ad Server, that delivers ads to your customers and measures all online advertising, even across screens and channels.

DoubleClick Bid Manager – the programmatic bidding platform for bidding on high-quality ad inventory from more than 47 ad marketplaces including Google Display Network.

DoubleClick Ad Exchange: the world’s largest ad marketplace for purchasing display, video, mobile, Search and even Facebook inventory.

DoubleClick Search: is more powerful than AdWords and used for purchasing search ads across Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

DoubleClick Creative Solutions: for designing, delivering and measuring rich media (video) ads, interactive and expandable ads.

doubleclick

Analytics

The _ga is asssociated with Google Universal Analytics - which is a significant update to Google's more commonly used analytics service. This cookie is used to distinguish unique users by assigning a randomly generated number as a client identifier. It is included in each page request in a site and used to calculate visitor, session and campaign data for the sites analytics reports. By default it is set to expire after 2 years, although this is customisable by website owners.

The _gat global object is used to create and retrieve tracker objects, from which all other methods are invoked. Therefore the methods in this list should be run only off a tracker object created using the _gat global variable. All other methods should be called using the _gaq global object for asynchronous tracking.

_gid works as a user navigates between web pages, they can use the gtag.js tagging library to record information about the page the user has seen (for example, the page's URL) in Google Analytics. The gtag.js tagging library uses HTTP Cookies to "remember" the user's previous interactions with the web pages.

_ga, _gat, _gid