There is no doubt that Skype is popular for making calls and sending Instant Messages to your contacts no matter where they are located. The thing that makes it an attractive choice is that it is cheap and easy to use. But that’s not the only reason why people love it, many dissidents and journalists use it because they believe it is safe from eavesdropping and surveillance. This isn’t really true.
Skype’s security and privacy flaws
Skype was founded in 2003 and it has a pretty neat reputation for security and privacy. It is high time you know a few things about Skype. It has a long history of providing communications data to the government authorities in response of the court orders. This information includes registration details, IP address and your call logs. Then comes the major issue. It is possible for anyone to find our computer’s IP address from your Skype username when you are logged in. Once they successfully get your IP address, it is easy for them to track your location and movements. If you want to hide where you go, you should be pretty concerned about this.
If that wasn’t enough of a trouble, then comes Skype’s encryption. Like most of us, you also thought that its end-to-end encryption makes your calls impregnable to listening ears, right? We all understand that Skype could not deliver information about the content of your call even if they were to deliver information about who you were talking to. However, Stephen Collins, a representative from Skype claimed that there are no keys held by Skype to decrypt communications. That’s not all, according to the documentation leaked by Edwards Snowden, NSA agents have been listening to Skype calls since 2010 as a part of its PRISM Project. And surprisingly, it has been happening for a long time, even before Skype was bought by Microsoft. What we don’t know is to what extent government or agencies other than the USA have a backdoor to eavesdrop on Skype.
Skype eavesdrops its own services too. In 2013, it was revealed that Microsoft scans the Skype Instant Message services for URL links. But there is nothing much to worry about since it is a common practice conducted by most companies and it is not necessarily a bad thing. Companies have to check messages time after time to ensure fraudulent links to phishing websites are not being communicated.
The Cortana update can be a rising concern for some Skype users
Apart from this, The Windows 10 virtual assistant software ‘Cortana’ also does a little surveillance on you. It scans your Skype conversations for setting reminders, searching movie reviews and restaurants on your behalf. It can also reply to your messages with some witty lines. The problem is that Cortana can be interviewing in your conversation. If you add Cortana to Skype, it is virtually impossible to delete it from your contact list. It will then even access your most private conversations. A good thing is that it requires user’s permission to access the messages and location. You can also disable its unwanted features. This feature is available for the US-based Skype users only.
The only time when Skype Surveillance is just
Apart from this global surveillance, Skype surveillance is happening close to home too with a Skype surveillance app just like a Viber surveillance app that most parents use to keep track of their kids. Businesses are using these surveillance applications security reasons. It, in fact, may be written in your employer’s contract that your employer has the right to monitor your emails, desktops and company-owned devices. Unlike global surveillance, a Skype surveillance app for business cannot intercept the Skype calls but it can let an employer read your chats, check the call log and any some multimedia files shared through Skype.
A Skype surveillance app (Xnspy makes a good example) needs to be installed on the smartphone prior to surveillance. Xnspy, for instance when installed on the company-owned devices allows employers to remotely view the Skype conversations of their employees no matter where they are as long as the devices are connected to the internet. As businesses are always concerned their employees may be sharing the confidential business information with competitors, they conduct skype surveillance. Since only business communications are being monitored, this type of surveillance is not really invading your privacy.
The people who wish to communicate securely online without Government surveillance are not without options. Of course, the landline or mobile phone calls can be intercepted too, there are better alternatives to Skype that are free from such digital espionage. You can use those alternatives for private conversations.