Discord, Telegram, Slack and other chat platforms have become popular communication tools widely used by businesses and enterprises worldwide. In addition, these chat platforms provide the ability for its users to connect their own applications onto the platforms using their APIs. This feature can save a lot of time and increase efficiency in working the environment because there is no need to switch from app to app.
However, is it safe?
When it comes to security, for many instances, chat platforms are easy to exploit by cybercriminals. One of the major example, IRC which was used as command-and-control (C&C) infrastructure for botnets.
Researchers at Trend Micro focused on Discord, Slack and Telegram chat platforms and if cybercriminals are able these platforms APIs turn into C&C infrastructures. In addition to that, researchers were also interested to see if there is an already established malware that could exploit that.
Trend Micro has employed monitoring, research and establishment of proof-of-concept code and proved that each platform’s API functionality can be exploited by cybercriminals – the chap platforms can be easily turned into C&C servers.
When it comes to API-abusing malware, researchers have also found its samples. After the extensive monitoring of investigated chat platforms, it was detected that hackers are already targeting them for malicious purposes.
Researchers at Trend Micro indicated:
What makes this particular security issue something for businesses to take note of is that there is currently no way to secure chat platforms from it without killing their functionality. Blocking the APIs of these chat platforms means rendering them useless, while monitoring network traffic for suspicious Discord/Slack/Telegram connections is practically futile as there is no discernible difference between those initiated by malware and those initiated by the user.
So do businesses should avoid chat platforms?
It depends on the company’s current state of protection: the safe and updated network or/and endpoint trained and informed employees could minimize the risk of using these chat platforms.
Tips for users
- Always keep your credentials confidential;
- Do not click suspicious links, even from known users;
- Do not download suspicious files, even from known users;
- Keep with safe surfing or system usage habits;
- Chat server should be used only for work purposes, do not use it for personal reasons;
Tips for businesses
- Introduce your employees with strict guidelines;
- Train and inform your employees about safe usage habits;
- Inform employees about basic scams including, phishing scams, spam;
- Make sure that IT team is well briefed and educated about the threats;
- Think twice, if chat platform is really that needed to day-to-day operations. If not, simply do not use it.