Skype not secure?

Particularly in light of the fact that Skype is used by human rights defenders, including in Sri Lanka, as a means of secure communications is the speculation that it has a back-door entry that allows third parties, such as repressive government and intelligence agencies, gain access to conversations. 

According to reports, there may be a back door built into Skype, which allows connections to be bugged. The company has declined to expressly deny the allegations. At a meeting with representatives of ISPs and the Austrian regulator on lawful interception of IP based services held on 25th June, high-ranking officials at the Austrian interior ministry revealed that it is not a problem for them to listen in on Skype conversations.

This has been confirmed to heise online by a number of the parties present at the meeting. Skype declined to give a detailed response to specific enquiries from heise online as to whether Skype contains a back door and whether specific clients allowing access to a system or a specific key for decrypting data streams exist. The response from the eBay subsidiary’s press spokesman was brief, “Skype does not comment on media speculation. Skype has no further comment at this time.” There have been rumours of the existence of a special listening device which Skype is reported to offer for sale to interested states.

Emphasis mine.

I first read about this on Heise Online and it’s generated significant interest on Slashdot. As TomatoMan notes on Slashdot,

Assume all communication that uses any kind of monitorable infrastructure is bugged. The capacity is there, and the desire is there. It is the way of things.

But as caluml (551744) reminds us,

I read a good presentation by people that had tried to disassemble Skype, and basically, Skype do so much to make it very, very difficult. Here’s a PDF version [blackhat.com] of it.

What do you think?

3 Comments on “Skype not secure?”

  1. Chen Levkovich
    December 20, 2009 at 12:03 pm #

    There is a new security software for Skype called “SX for Skype”, it blocks spammers and filter unwanted content.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Net Neutrality: Economics and implications for ICT4Peace and ODR « ICT for Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace) - September 4, 2008

    […] sometimes, there’s no other option for tools used by HR defenders – as in the case of Skype. Despite recent concerns over privacy, there is no other encrypted, free and widely used VOIP tool. And once you start going down this […]

  2. Skype, Censorship and China - A shameful nexus « ICT for Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace) - October 16, 2008

    […] First revelations that Skype wasn’t as secure as it made itself out to be came from Austria. These reports from China don’t help in restoring public confidence in the company, even though in many cases, it is still by far the most secure communications platform available for the likes of human rights and media freedom defenders. As reported by Reuters, “We may never know whether some of those people whose conversations were logged have gone to jail or have had their lives ruined in various ways as a result of this,” said Rebecca MacKinnon, an Internet expert at Hong Kong University. “This is a big blow to Skype’s credibility, despite the fact that Skype executives are downplaying it as not such a big deal.” Posted by Sanjana Hattotuwa Filed in ICT in general […]

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