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Cyber criminals lurk in the dark recesses of the Internet, striking at random and then disappearing into the virtual ether.But when they want to talk shop with their colleagues, they turn to Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft and its Skype communications tools, according to an analysis by the firm Flashpoint.Researchers compared data from 20 to observe changes in community preferences.The survey results show that, out of a population of around 80 instant messenger platforms and protocols, a short list of just five platforms accounts for between 80% and 90% of all mentions within the cyber underground. It ranked among the top five platforms across all language groups.The French prefer Jabber and PGP as well as ICQ over Microsoft’s Skype.

(Yes, we get that this is a questionable assumption.) Flashpoint analysts looked, especially, for invitations to continue conversation outside of cyber criminal marketplaces, like references to ICQ accounts or other platforms.Skype is the hands-down winner among various online communications options for cyber criminal groups, which have migrated to more secure, encrypted platforms from legacy chat tools like ICQ, Jabber and AOL Instagram in recent years.To study surveyed mentions of social media platforms in the underground communities monitored by Flashpoint.Still: increased interest in encrypted communications among cyber criminals follows public attention to the revelations of Edward Snowed and the emergency of new, secure messaging alternatives.Cyber criminals are also eager to share information with others inside communities of interest, further disseminating information about alternative chat platforms.

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