Recently, the question of deanonymizing Telegram users has been raised more and more by adding a large database of numbers, with the subsequent clarification of specific personalities of interest to the government and special services.
Against the backdrop of protests in Hong Kong
, ZDNet reporters noticed that many protesters do not fully understand how Telegram works and accuse its developers of choosing the visibility option “no one”, in fact, they leave the opportunity to see your number to strangers.
Until June 2019, there were two options for the visibility of your number: “all” and “my contacts”. In June 2019, a new “nobody” privacy setting item appeared .
However, even if you select the "nobody" option, your profile will still be visible if the person searching for you enters your number into his notebook, or you find yourself in the range of numbers that you have driven into the search through specialized programs.
After the news from Hong Kong, lines appeared on the translation platform that say that an option will appear that will prohibit seeing your phone number if you do not have the number of the person who is looking for you. That is, in the future, in order to find your profile in Telegram, the seeker should be in your notebook, and strangers will exclude you from being found.
The problem of finding users by enumerating number bases is not new. For example, in August 2018, it became known about the Russian Cryptoscan program, which operates in the same way of enumerating numbers as the Chinese.
The software was created in the "Center for the study of legitimacy and political protest" and now the program is called "Insider Telegram". It works on open ranges throughout Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan for 1 billion numbers . With the help of this product in several regions of Russia criminal cases on the financing of terrorism, drug trafficking and other compounds are already being investigated.
In addition to this program, there are others, for example , the Titan system . It is used by regional units of the "K" department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia. Each region is flooded with its own range of numbers and is already de-anonymized by users.
Of the good news, it should be noted that Telegram has limits on the import of contacts from a notebook. After overcoming a certain threshold, the account receives a ban, after which it remains possible to add no more than five new numbers per day. The rest of the added contacts will look as if they are not using Telegram, even if in fact it is not.
Unfortunately, such protection can definitely be circumvented with the help of many accounts, and this is clearly not a problem, especially when it comes to law enforcement agencies and the government.
This is probably why Telegram is ready to take such a radical step, which, when you turn on the option, will make you invisible in Telegram for everyone except your notebook, which will give users even more control over their privacy in the messenger.