Vendor warns over Skype eavesdropping

Vendor warns over Skype eavesdropping
Vendor warns over Skype eavesdropping 

By John E. Dunn
20 August 2007

Skype is an easy target for hacking and offers a way inside a corporate 

That's according to a report from managed security company Network Box 
which said Skype could be undermined by a malevolent insider working to 
open hidden backdoors.

It's more bad news for Skype, following a week in which its users have 
struggled with crippling service outages.

In the short report, Skype Friend of Foe?, Network Box suggests how the 
program could be compromised. Because Skype uses a proprietary protocol 
to evade detection, it could not only stymie blocking systems, but if 
hijacked would be a perfect system to compromise the security of any 
communications made using it. Any built-in hack would be invisible to 
corporate security systems until it was too late.

The security of the Skype system depends entirely on the good will of 
Skypes programmers and the organisation running Skypes back-end servers. 
It is possible that there are back doors in the system, allowing the 
Skype organisation or others to eavesdrop or record Skype conversations, 
the report says.

As well as hiding itself, Skype has also established a cycle of 
continuous upgrades that made effective detection and management tricky.

The Skype program can update itself every time it runs, so the security 
over the overall system can change without warning or even a change in 
appearance. Systems could be brought down by an error in this download.

With last weeks outages in mind, it concludes that even companies 
willing to use the programme in a proxy setup, should assume a degree of 
unreliability and insecurity when compared to running standards-based 
VoIP over a VPN.

Other recommendations include being careful about the identity of 
apparently legitimate Skype contacts, using a login for Skype not used 
to access any other system, and making sure that Skype users inside 
companies dont identify the companies they are working for in their user 
names or Skype profiles.

Worries over Skypes security are nothing new, some thing the company has 
attempted to address with a business version that claims to be easier 
for IT administrators to manage and control.

Attend HITBSecConf2007 - Malaysia 
Taking place September 3-6 2007 featuring seven tracks of technical 
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