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Skype (Microsoft) won't promise it's not intercepting your calls

by Alistair Lowe on 24 July 2012, 11:00

Tags: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Skype

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qabj2f

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Let's be honest, since Microsoft purchased Skype, perhaps more openly for some or perhaps in the corner of the mind for others, we've all been asking the question, is Skype still secure, are my calls and my rights to privacy still protected?

Well Skype isn't being so clear on the matter, failing to provide a direct response, however, in a statement delivered to slate.com, the firm stated that it "cooperates with law enforcement agencies as much as is legally and technically possible." Which to us here at HEXUS is a large, resounding 'No', to the question, "are my calls secure?"

Reading into the firm's statement a little, 'technically possible' is an interesting concept, as Skype traditionally functions on a peer-to-peer basis, avoiding any direct server connections and thus reducing the capability of a group to track and monitor calls. The firm has, however, been accused recently of making changes to the program and its respective protocol that would make it easier for the "lawful interception" of calls. Likewise, Microsoft has filed patents for VoIP interception technology that can "silently copy communication transmitted via the communication session," demonstrating that the firm is actively exploring avenues where it can profit from call monitoring.

Whilst it's not unreasonable to expect a firm to comply with law enforcement, opening up the protocol or deploying monitoring technologies has the potential to transform a once trusted system into one with an ever increasing number of security holes, that could take advantage of established user trust.

Though there's no confirmation that Microsoft has yet to take either of these actions, we wonder if, as users catch onto the fact that their privacy is no longer a guarantee, people will chose to stay with Skype or transition to another service.



HEXUS Forums :: 4 Comments

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Thing is.. Nearly every company is on the cloud and “your privacy is now ours but it's free” train. Leave Skype for.. who, what? Google GMail chat? That is probably even worse in terms of privacy. EU is kicking hard at the moment regarding privacy protection etc. but how long do we have until most services are free and everything and anything we do is shared in one way or the other. Google started it nicely with decent search engine, gmail, maps, browser.. and now our information is at Google's disposal.
Some of us value our privacy and don't use anything which can compromise it. I've never used Skype and now never will. I'm all for the Police being able to access things when there is probable cause, but I don't trust any company with my data.

I still store everything local, safest, most efficient for me as I don't use mobile apps… I don't even own a mobile phone!
Move to OOvOO which I have used for some years now. Much better than Skype ever was.
is Skype still secure
It never has been; it's been known for quite some time it's fairly simple to monitor Skype calls despite the encryption because of the VBR codec used. The P2P nature would make it tricky for a third party to monitor specific calls, and it would be possible for reasonably advanced users to check if calls are being bounced around, but any relays or ISPs on the way would still be able to monitor them in theory.

If you want secure, surely you wouldn't be using a proprietary software package from a company who frequently dodge questions about security. Even if their intentions were good, not revealing the security implementation isn't great either. There's always SIP, and you can add whatever you want on top of it to encrypt calls…