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Telegram is a Russian messenger created in 2013. It is promoted as the most secure one on the market in terms of the confidentiality of conversations exchanged on the platform. It attracts users with various profiles who are looking for more privacy and less censorship.

What is Telegram? How does it work?

Telegram is an instant messaging service. It’s one of WhatsApp’s main competitors. Most of the time, they recover users who no longer agree with the personal data policy of the Meta group’s application. These users are looking for more privacy. Moreover, WhatsApp has been hit several times in the press with revelations of security flaws.

For its part, Telegram uses encryption of conversations between the sender (i.e. the application) and the Telegram servers. This seems less secure than WhatsApp, which uses end-to-end encryption because Telegram has access to the information transmitted.

Telegram stands out in its ability to create public channels. These can host up to 200,000 members (compared to 256 on WhatsApp). Finally, it is possible to have “end-to-end” encryption, but only between two users and on demand.

Is it as reliable as it claims?

End-to-end encryption is one of the most secure ways to ensure the confidentiality of a conversation. As previously announced, on Telegram, this option must be activated. As a result, many people think they are safe on this application but are not.

Moreover, it is security that is not unfailing. Indeed, it can be circumvented by various techniques. The difference is that you must target the person you want to harm. This prevents mass surveillance and makes it more costly for hackers to attack.

There are a lot of grey areas that leave a lot of places for doubt about the reliability of the application. Firstly, the telephone numbers are stored on servers whose location is not known. Furthermore, in 2021, a hacker arrived to reveal the exact GPS location of several users. Another flaw allowed the word order of a message to be changed – and the list goes on.

What are the potential risks and misuses of this application?

Beyond the aforementioned privacy risks, Telegram presents other dangers. Firstly, the application is very popular in conspiracy circles, as it was during the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian war. Moreover, we could imagine this messaging as a kind of deep web that is more easily accessible. Indeed, there are many groups with illegal practices and thousands of users. For example, it is possible to have free access to paid content such as Spotify, Netflix and other applications. There are also stolen logins to access certain services. Finally, it is also possible to counterfeit identity documents, access illegal jobs, obtain weapons etc.


A propos de Nathan Debray

Étudiant en M2 Commerce électronique à l'Université de Strasbourg