Security Advisor

Spying On You Through Skype

Microsoft, which purchased VoIP juggernaut Skype last year, is currently investigating an issue in which hackers, using a modified client, can pinpoint an IP address of a Skype user.

The tool, which initializes snooping mode in Skype 5.5, was released this week online. While the folks at Skype probably don't see this as good news, it's also not dropping any personnel jaws. It knows what business it's in (Internet communication) and it knows that, no matter how secure your software is, someone's going to figure out a way to grab some communication it shouldn't have access to.

While the company looks further into the matter, it is dropping the ban hammer on those it sees using the modified client. But with how easy it is to make an account -- takes a couple of minutes to set up a new, free username -- hackers just shrug it off and create a new one.

Marcus Carey, security researcher at Rapid7, believes this tool of malice could also be used for good. Law enforcement agencies could use it to find those up to no good on Skype.

I'm of two minds on this: While I'm all for the takedown of those who use the anonymity of online to conduct their harassment or scam, I'm also against tools that make it easier for the eye of the government to be locked onto our every move.

What do you think? Is a slight sacrifice in privacy (and, honestly, Google does this on a daily basis) worth taking down online rapscallions? Let me know at cpaoli@1105media.com.

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for Redmondmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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