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Discord groups under FBI investigation for criminal activity

A new report containing court filings has revealed that many Discord groups are hubs for criminal activities like hacking.

Discord is a place many of us go to socialise with friends while gaming, but a recent report by Forbes claims to expose court filings that show that Discord groups dedicated to cybercrime are being investigated by the FBI, including hackers as well as child grooming cases.

The company, which is worth $2 billion USD, issued a statement about the matter saying that "harassment, threatening messages, calls to violence or any illegal activity" are prohibited, and that this list includes "more expansive activities than other platforms' rules such as doxxing and sharing private information."

"Though we do not read people's private messages, we do investigate and take immediate action against any reported violation by a server or user, which can include shutting down offending servers or banning users," the spokesperson explained further. "We work closely with law enforcement agencies in their investigations when appropriate to ensure and strengthen the safety of our community members."

One particular Discord group has been uncovered which was selling "stolen credentials". People could pay subscriptions to this group to get access to online accounts, with one advertisement saying there were over 100,000 accounts on there. It's likely that stolen usernames and passwords were a part of this, and Discord has since banned the server, although others exist for the same purpose. Other chats are dedicated to stolen goods too, as well as credit card information, malware, Amazon gift cards, dumping information online, and more.

Senior strategy and research analyst for Digital Shadows Rafael Amado said Discord was popular because users believed there was anonymity with the service, and that many came here after dark web markets were shut down. The former point isn't quite true though, as Discord can hand over details to government bodies if necessary.

That said, the speed with which users can set up new servers means that even if they're banned they can come back easily to establish their presence again. Screen-sharing and voice calls are free to use and one of the appeals, as the owner of one server SentryMBA told Forbes.

Also in the report are cases of users contacting children for inappropriate topics and grooming. One incident also saw a 14-year-old boy go missing in Mississippi last year after being lured over the platform.

Flashpoint cybercrime analyst David Shear thinks that the strategy of banning users isn't working, as the company should instead work "to address the pervasive nature of threat actors using Discord as their home [...] Otherwise, it will be purely reactionary as it currently is."

What can be done to stop the problem?