Russia’s Rostec allegedly can de-anonymize Telegram users

Gandalf_The_Grey

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Russia's Rostec has reportedly bought a platform that allows it to uncover the identities of anonymous Telegram users, likely to be used to tamp down on unfavorable news out of the country.

Rostekh is a state-owned tech and defense systems corporation that comprises 800 enterprises and 15 companies,

The organization, which has an active role in monitoring the circulation of information within the country, is particularly interested in the identity of Telegram channel administrators who are critical of the Russian state.

This is reported by Russian media the Bell and Medusa, who investigated the matter after a series of arrests of anonymous Telegram channel owners and bloggers in 2022.

The Bell presents several cases that shook trust in Telegram's security, including the arrests of commercial director Ksenia Sobchak Kirill Sukhanov, ex-editor-in-chief of Tatler magazine Arian Romanovsky, and journalist Tamerlan Bigaev, all users of the "Put out the light" Telegram channel.

According to the same reports, Rostec's subsidiary "Avtomatika" (Автоматика) acquired a St. Petersburg IT company named T. Hunter in 2021, which has developed a product that can be used to identify anonymous users on Telegram.

The tool is allegedly called "Okhotnik" (Охотник), which translates to "hunter." It is said to use over 700 data points to make associations and correlations that can lead to unmasking otherwise anonymous Telegram users.

The data points are drawn from social networks, blogs, forums, instant messengers, bulletin boards, cryptocurrency blockchains, darknet, and government services, and concern names, nicknames, email addresses, websites, domains, crypto wallets, encryption keys, phone numbers, geolocation info, IP addresses, and more.

"Hunter" can find any mistake made by the targeted users at any point in the past, so even the slightest and most distant exposure of their true identity can be used to create deanonymization paths.
 

CyberDevil

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I wouldn't be surprised if this Hunter is just a smokescreen. Telegram comes from Russia, its creator Pavel Durov was persecuted and fled from the country, and later Telegram was blocked, but years have passed and now Telegram is almost the most popular messenger in Russia, used by top Kremlin officials. What has changed? At the same time, Telegram is still full of content that can get you imprisoned for decades in Russia, but no one and nowhere is talking about blocking it, and here it is different from, for example, YouTube. This is very strange and suspicious. :)
 

transformer69

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Mar 17, 2023
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The tool is allegedly called "Okhotnik" (Охотник), which translates to "hunter." It is said to use over 700 data points to make associations and correlations that can lead to unmasking otherwise anonymous Telegram users.

The data points are drawn from social networks, blogs, forums, instant messengers, bulletin boards, cryptocurrency blockchains, darknet, and government services, and concern names, nicknames, email addresses, websites, domains, crypto wallets, encryption keys, phone numbers, geolocation info, IP addresses, and more.

"Hunter" can find any mistake made by the targeted users at any point in the past, so even the slightest and most distant exposure of their true identity can be used to create deanonymization paths.

So if I use a new unique username, don't reveal my Telegram username in other online platforms, don't share any personally identifiable information/photos, don't buy/sell anything inside telegram channels and groups, only chat with my personal contacts then they can't de-anonymize me right?
 

Zero Knowledge

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So if I use a new unique username, don't reveal my Telegram username in other online platforms, don't share any personally identifiable information/photos, don't buy/sell anything inside telegram channels and groups, only chat with my personal contacts then they can't de-anonymize me right?
You assume the authorities don't have access to Telegram's back-end systems and databases. They probably do so yes you can probably be de-anonymized. And how you would know that nation states are not doing full take traffic dumps of all Telegram traffic is another matter, they probably do.
 
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