Law enforcement and government officials don’t like encrypted peer-to-peer chat platforms such as WhatsApp and Jabber because it is harder to eavesdrop on what cybercriminals are planning. But according to a recent study of global cybercrime operations, the bulk of criminal discussions don’t happen over encrypted chat. Skype is the preferred mode of communication among cybercrime gangs worldwide.

Skype, owned by Microsoft and widely used by consumers and enterprises, doesn’t encrypt messaging end-to-end the way the secure messaging apps do. But it is still popular among cybercrime gangs around the world, FlashPoint analysts found in a study of communications platforms used by financially motivated cybercriminals.

While cybercriminals continue to use online message boards and web forums to meet like-minded actors, recruit for specific tools, buy technical tools, and sell their goods or services, when they need to coordinate with partners and team members, they tend to shift to mainstream messaging tools.

“The really meaty conversation is not happening in forums, but in different messaging applications,” said Leroy Terrelonge, FlashPoint’s director of Middle East and Africa Research and director of Americas Research. One reason could be that forums often shut down without warning or experience service interruptions.

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