Skype and ICQ, the preferred messaging applications for cybercriminals

A effective, discreet and safe tool It is something that every cybercriminal association wants. In their meetings and communities, cybercriminals prefer Skype as a communication applicationsurprisingly beating competitors that we can consider safer, such as , and

This follows from the study carried out by the intelligence firm flash point. This research analyzes the current state of communication related to online crimeand was based on mentions of the platforms in underground communities.

The list of communities that were monitored by Flashpoint includes numerous internet forums associated with fraudulent network-based activities.

Cybercriminals prefer Skype to hold their conversations

The research concluded that cybercriminals prefer Skype, even though online scammers and hackers tend to prefer different types of messaging apps depending on their location or the language they speak. Skype dominates online criminal communities 62% English speakingwhich no longer happens in Spanish-speaking communities.

The preferred messaging applications for cybercriminals in Spanish

In 2012 cybercriminals who speak Spanish (as well as those who use Arabic) also trusted for their communications (48.76%), but during 2016 the majority changed the use towards ICQan instant messaging service of Israeli origin created in 1996, which was bought in 2010 by the Russian company Mail.ruthe owner, among others, of the social networks Y . Currently, it is estimated that there are more than 50 million accounts registered with ICQ.

The ranking of communication applications used by Spanish-speaking cybercriminals is as follows:

  • ICQ 51.5%
  • Skype 15.11%
  • KikMessenger 13.44%
  • jabber 8.21%
  • WhatsApp 7.07%
  • Telegram 2.11%
  • pgp 0.98%
  • AOL Instant Messenger 0.86%
  • Threema 0.56%
  • pidgin 0.5%
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According to the study, this change, from Skype to ICQ, was due to cybercriminals who speak Spanish try to copy the more sophisticated communication patterns of cybercriminals who speak Russian, who are recognized in the industry for being the most innovative actors in the cybercrime ecosystem. During 2012, the main communications system for Russian-language cybercriminals was ICQ with 51.83% of mentions.

But by 2016, Skype gained its place as the most used for Russian-speaking cybercriminals with the 38.72% of mentionsfollowed by Jabber with 24.77%. So why did Spanish-speaking cybercriminals change their preference recently? According to the study, it is because Russian messages take a few months to filter through to Spanish-speaking cybercriminals.

The reasons for preferring a certain type of messaging

The reasons why cybercriminals prefer to choose one messaging platform over others are varied. In addition to trying to get leverage from other cybercrime actors, these reasons are typically influenced by a number of factors, including the ease of use, country and language, and .

So based on the data from the study, it can be said that Skype is the king of messaging applications for cybercriminals because it appears in the top 5 of all languages and only in the French, Persian and Chinese speaking communities was it not one of the most mentioned systems.

Regardless of your language, skills, or location, cybercriminals tend to share information and collaborate across communitieseven as mentors. Such activities require constant access to reliable means of communication.

Cybercriminals in all the language communities studied in this report have spent their discussions from messaging services with less encryption and anonymity to protecting yourself with more sophisticated applications and integrated protection serviceswhich include Jabber, Telegram and WhatsApp.

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