Skype can be intercepted by intelligence agencies: report

Powered by SC Magazine
 

Spooks listening in?

Unverified reports in Russian media claim that conversations over Skype can be eavesdropped by intelligence agencies which can also determine the location of users.

First reported in the Russian-language Vedomosti newspaper last week, the Federal Security Service (FSB) has had the ability to intercept Skype calls for "a couple of years" and often do so without a court warrant.

As a result, some Russian companies are banning staff from using Skype out of concern that their communications are secretly listened to.

Since Skype voice and video calls as well as instant messages are routed directly between users in a peer-to-peer fashion without a central server, and encoded locally according to the 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard developed by the United States government, it's been assumed that eavesdropping on communications would be impossible in practice.

However, Vedomosti quotes the executive director of payments provider Peak Systems, Maxim Emm, saying that after Microsoft's purchase of Skype, it is now possible to eavesdrop on users easiliy.

According to Emm, call set ups between any user accounts can now be directed to go through a central server that generates the encryption keys that were previously created on users' devices. This allows calls and other communications to be decrypted and intercepted, Emm said.

Emm claims that Microsoft has provided this interception ability to other security services around to the world, to be used for legitimate wiretapping of communications.

Earlier this month, a US computer science graduate student, Jeffrey Knockel, worked out how Skype censors messages between users of its software in China.

Skype has been intercepting and blocking thousands of terms the Chinese regime considers politically sensitive such as Tiananmen, Amnesty International and Ferrari.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Knockel said that as part of a study project he discovered that each time users of Skype's Chinese software go online, an updated blacklist of terms is downloaded.

When an offending term is matched, Knockel said a copy of the message is sent to server operated by Skype's partner TOM in China, along with the account user name and date and time stamps, plus receipt notifications.

However, Knockel said he doesn't know if the information is shared with the Chinese government.

iTnews contacted Skype for comment on the matter, and will update the story if any is received. A Microsoft spokesperson had no comment.

Copyright © iTnews.com.au . All rights reserved.


Skype can be intercepted by intelligence agencies: report
 
 
 
Top Stories
Hockey flags billion-dollar Centrelink mainframe replacement
Claims 30 year-old tech is holding Govt back.
 
Ombudsman wants to monitor warrantless metadata access
Requests ability to report publicly.
 
Frugality as a service: the Amazon story
Behind the scenes, Amazon Web Services is one lean machine.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...

Latest VideosSee all videos »

The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
Scott Noteboom, CEO of LitBit speaking at The Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit 2014 in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. http://bit.ly/1qpxVfV Scott Noteboom is a data centre engineer who led builds for Apple and Yahoo in the earliest days of the cloud, and who now eyes Asia as the next big opportunity. Read more: http://www.itnews.com.au/News/372482,how-do-we-serve-three-billion-new-internet-users.aspx#ixzz2yNLmMG5C
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
To COTS or not to COTS? iTnews asks Karl Maftoum, CIO of the ACMA, at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
AEMO chief information officer Susan Sly calls for more collaboration among Australia's technology leaders at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Credit Union Australia's David Gee awarded Finance CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards.
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Damon Rees named Retail CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Woolworths.
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Acting Foxtel CIO David Marks accepts an iTnews Benchmark Award on behalf of Robyn Elliott.
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Sanjay Mehta named Industrial CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at ConocoPhillips.
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Greg Wells named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at NSW Health.
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
William Confalonieri named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Deakin University.
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
David Johnson named Government CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at the Queensland Police Service.
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott discuss the Coalition's broadband policy with the press.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
The Australian Federal Police have arrested a Sydney-based IT security professional for hacking a government website.
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO Chrissy Burns talks data.
New UTS Building: the IT within
New UTS Building: the IT within
The IT behind tomorrow's universities.
iTnews' NBN Panel
iTnews' NBN Panel
Is your enterprise NBN-ready?
Introducing iTnews Labs
Introducing iTnews Labs
See a timelapse of the iTnews labs being unboxed, set up and switched on! iTnews will produce independent testing of the latest enterprise software to hit the market after installing a purpose-built test lab in Sydney. Watch the installation of two DL380p servers, two HP StoreVirtual 4330 storage arrays and two HP ProCurve 2920 switches.
The True Cost of BYOD
The True Cost of BYOD
iTnews' Brett Winterford gives attendees of the first 'Touch Tomorrow' event in Brisbane a brief look at his research into enterprise mobility. What are the use cases and how can they be quantified? What price should you expect to pay for securing mobile access to corporate applications? What's coming around the corner?
Ghost clouds
Ghost clouds
ACMA chair Chris Chapman says there is uncertainty over whether certain classes of cloud service providers are caught by regulations.
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Privacy experts David Vaile (UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre) and Craig Scroggie (CEO, NextDC) claim they were not surprised by the Snowden leaks about the NSA's PRISM program.
Latest Comments
Polls
Which bank is most likely to suffer an RBS-style meltdown?





   |   View results
ANZ
  20%
 
Bankwest
  9%
 
CommBank
  12%
 
National Australia Bank
  17%
 
Suncorp
  23%
 
Westpac
  19%
TOTAL VOTES: 1511

Vote