Skype, which provides free online calls and cheap phone calls to hundreds of millions of people around the world, has always been known for using strong encryption and complex peer-to-peer network connections. As a result, Skype calls are notoriously hard to intercept.
The company was very proud of its strong user security record, and even publicly stated that it could not conduct wiretaps because of its secure encryption techniques.
But this apparently is no longer the case.
And security advocates are worried that Skype may be allowing law enforcement to spy on users. Even worse, Skype is not being candid about their relationship with law enforcement.
Microsoft Changed Everything
Last year, Microsoft bought Skype for nearly $9 billion. Shortly thereafter, Microsoft received a patent that allowed them to silently copy communication transmitted during Skype communication sessions.
Here’s the problem: no one knows for sure whether or not Skype integrated this technology into their architecture. And for whatever reason, Skype isn’t talking.
And a Skype spokesman recently released a statement which read as follows: “As was true before the Microsoft acquisition, Skype cooperates with law enforcement agencies as legally required and technically feasible.”
At the very least, Skype has the technology to intercept user calls without their knowledge.
Given the high number of law enforcement requests to phone companies for user information (over 1.3 million in 2011 alone), it is safe to assume that Skype can no longer provide an absolute level of privacy and security for their users.
The problem with Skype is the same problem as many phone companies that provide user information to law enforcement: they simply aren’t being candid with their users.
Some users are already seeking other open-source solutions, like Jitsi, which provides end-to-end encryption and complete user security.
Until Microsoft is completely transparent about what information they are or are not supplying to law enforcement, Skype users should assume the worse and take all necessary steps to protect themselves and their privacy.