back to article Italian crooks use Skype to frustrate wiretaps

Italian crooks are making greater use of internet telephony because of the widespread use of wiretaps in the country. Customs and tax police in Milan are complaining that drug dealers and other organised criminals are using tools such as Skype in an effort to frustrate investigations, the BBC reports. Investigators cite the …

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Anonymous Coward

How do they know?

Sounds like the Italian Rozzers just want surveillance tech for Skype, so they're imagining crimes that might be committed that they are not detecting by not having it.

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Anonymous Coward

Sinking The 'Unsinkable' Ship

I suppose unless it's quantum encrypted don't think there's such a thing as a secure method of communications. Remember the NSA's sole purpose is to intercept ALL communications & break any code. They almost certainly have the world's most powerful supercomputers, a massive budget in the tens of billions of dollars & the top number-crunchers. I almost certainly think they are the US's No.1 source of intelligence (forget the CIA). Things like Skype would be like wasps to honey, irresistible. Ordinary law enforcement maybe a different matter, security services like the NSA prefer to keep things in-house. If China's apparently cracked Skype then undoubtedly the NSA have.

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Silver badge

Cool strategy

Implanting news that Skype is hard to wiretap is a nice strategy to wiretap people. I mean Skype surely can be easily wiretaped if you call it's mother company.

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Paris Hilton

Criminals use skype to avoid wiretaps?

or maybe they use it to avoid telco costs, just like the rest of us!

Oooh beware of the fearsome Skype P2P Proprietary Encryption! They could use site-to-site IPSEC and run SIP over it but that would probably be rather more pedestrian and business-like.

Why doesn't anyone mention "Windows for Workgroups" in the context of p2p. In fact, its been a while since I've come across a computer system which *can't* share files or data with its peers.

I also suspect that the POTS system is p2p too. I'm pretty sure all the data doesn't go to a central server any more than internet links do.

Paris - she knows ATM and routing protocols.

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Anonymous Coward

Why Not?

"not possible to simply tap communications at a telephone exchange"

Stick in a doohicky that sits between the world and the potential criminals line and records all in and out bound data Or go to their ISP and say "please record all VOIP traffic onto this highly secure memory stick that i'll lose on the train ride home"

Job done, have another expresso.

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Jobs Halo

Skype to take NSA's billions

If the NSA with there billion $ super computers can't crack it. I don't see how a German company can. Mind you its a nice way for Skype / ebay to make a few million by offering NSA etc. backdoors - for a price

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Dead Vulture

Crooks?

I find it a bit saddening how heavy a use the article makes of the substantive "crooks". "Freedom lovers", "people who object to being spied upon" are categories that would warrant mentioning, IMHO. When one reflects upon how little evidence suffices to label Joe Public as a "suspect terrorist", you don't need to be a criminal (merely, f.i. a political opponent -- or icelandic) to be anxious.

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Bronze badge

they prolly can already

just moaning they cant as a nice smokescreen !!

much more secure to text in new txt speech!

cant understand a blimming word

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Flame

oh we DO need to regulate the internet

don't we?

any way, the way things are going, it might become illegal for the average punter to encrypt any non-finical information without a special permission from the government. This include email, IM abd even web surfing (all your pr0n is on the internet anyway, why try to hide it?).

oh, and just a reminder, p2p is when 2 (or more) clients (end points) talk to each other without going back to the server. The server is only needed when trying to find other clients, once that is done, the server (and serving company) is out of the loop and the communication is just between the clients (which *might* report to the server once they are done).

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RE: Sinking The 'Unsinkable' Ship

The Chinese have not "cracked" skype, but they don't allow their citizens to download the regular Skype client. Instead a special one is offered that forwards all communications to another server as well as to/from the person you're calling or chatting with.

IIRC it was the lack of security on these other servers that collected the "intercepted" communications that broke the story:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/03/skype_coughs_to_china_test_tap/

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Black Helicopters

Ah, Se Senior

SW4gdGhlIHdvcmxkIG9mIHNtb2tlIGFuZCBtaXJyb3JzIHRoYXQgaXMgc2lnbmFsIGludGVsbGlnZ

W5jZSwgaXQgY291bGQgYmUgdGhhdCBwb2xpY2UgZG8gaGF2ZSBhIHdheSBvZiB0YXBwaW5

nIGludG8gVm9JUCBjYWxscyBhbmQgc2ltcGx5IHdhbnQgY3Jvb2tzIHRvIHVzZSBpdCBpbiB0aGU

gbWlzdGFrZW4gYmVsaWVmIHRoYXQgZWF2ZXNkcm9wcGluZyBpcyBpbXBvc3NpYmxlLiBUaG

UgaGlzdG9yeSBvZiBlbmNyeXB0aW9uIHRlYWNoZXMgdXMgdGhhdCBob3cgZW5jcnlwdGlvbiB0

ZWNobm9sb2dpZXMgYXJlIHVzZWQgaXMgbW9yZSBpbXBvcnRhbnQgdGhhdCBob3cgc2VjdXJlI

Gl0IG1pZ2h0IGJlIGluIHRoZW9yeS4g77+9DQoNCg==

Comprendez?

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah, right

If spooks have an interest in tapping your live conversations, they will do. Unless I get some proper independent explanation on WHY P2P should be harder to tap I will consider this FUD. Also, I think this is a matter of wrong question asked. Can they? No, SHOULD THEY. Should they be allowed to! It's digital data, everyone's and your mother's skype yappings easily archived till the monkeys come to rule.

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Go

@ Ah, Se Senior...

The pheasant has no agenda...

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Anonymous Coward

Police needs tools

Police needs to have tools to do their job. Anyone who suffered from criminals will have very different opinion about the retoric like personal privacy etc. I have no problem if police is listening my conversations with wife or children, I have nothing to hide and they will be bored too soon.

Reg. leaking politician talks - that is good for the society. All their talks must be public, if they are serving for the country - so what to hide.

If anyone has a better idea how to control/prevent crimes without having information - post it. The only known alternative method is soviet type regime where every third citizen must periodically report to authorities what others around him are doing and thinking, if he refuses then he is a state enemy himself and prompt execution follows.

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Bronze badge
Stop

@ Ah, Se Senior...

Hmmm... you could have at least coded up a bit of a more interesting message (even a bit of lorel ipsum dolor) instead of that last paragraph. And maybe dumped the == from the end of the message... the encoding would still be fairly obvious but there's no need to telegraph it. STOP.

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Silver badge
Boffin

@Yeah, right

Regular phones can be tapped from one point. You just ask BT to forward a copy of the call data stream from a particular number to your office at Vauxhall Bridge.

Skype only uses the central server to log you in and check your credit, the software finds the person you are calling by doing hops between other skype users who are logged on. The central skype server doesn't know who you are calling or their IP address.

Then the data goes by the shortest route, if you are nearby and both on the same ISP it might only go as far as their nearest local switch.

To tap it the ISP would have to fit equipment to detect a skype call into every local switch. Some of them try to do this already to throttle the skype bandwidth so you have to buy their expensive VOIP package instead. But reliably distinguishing skype data from other P2P on random parts is a pain and even if you do get a copy of the data you have to break the encryption.

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Anonymous Coward

@Police needs tools

I have er... "suffered from criminals" as you put it. I still support personal privacy.

I'll let you in on a secret. I don't want laws to be *too* easy to enforce. Privacy is a vital defense against stupid laws. Take extreme porn. I think it's reprehensible that the government would try to tell consenting people what can and can't do, take pictures of or think in the bedroom. The only reason that law hasn't resulted in a bunch of people getting unjustly thrown in jail already is privacy.

Fortunately good laws, laws against crimes that actually hurt people like rape, murder and robbery are actually much easier to enforce. That's because these crimes leave lots of physical evidence and/or witnesses.

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Somewhat missing the point...

Correct if wrong, but a big part of what makes POTS wiretaps so handy is that discovering where the call is going, not just what is being said, is a fairly trivial matter using a man-in-the-middle attack. With a P2P VoIP scheme, you have the whole of the Internet to route your calls through, making it much harder to ever get your hands on more than one caller at once.

So rather than the cops being able to tap Perp. A's house and know that he called Perp B at the payphone behind the minimart, all they know is that a connection was initiated between a computer in Perp A's house to some shell host in Nigeria and from there to another in Switzerland and so on and so forth with each hop adding an additional layer of complexity to actually locating the person on the other end.

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Coat

I for One Shan't Mind a Bit.

[grumble] Every Gummental Entity on Sweet Mother Earth shall be morally welcome (and no more than that, thank you!) to a verbatim transcript of every VOIP conversation I own (for I own them all) at the very moment that every last Gummental Entity on the planetary surface of this war-weary world PERMANENTLY STOPS STARTING AGGRESSIVE WARS OF CHOICE.

FOREVER.

Aggressive wars of choice were fingered @ Nuremburg, once, as "The Supreme International Crime". But in the "Allies'" Mad Rush to Mammon following Judgement at Nuremburg, well, mebbe someone just got drunk and forgot? (Mebbe a WHOLE LOT of "someones"?)

Fact: Until that aforementioned Heaven-blessed "NEVER AGAIN" moment takes place in c-space/time, my friends, "General Squarepants" and all his subservient spooks of the USDC Jurisdiction's NSA/CIA/etc/et al can all just EAGERLY KISS MY VERY OWN VERY VOIPY INDIGENOUS AMERICAN ASS very much indeed, thank you so very MODERATELY much! [/grumble]

They tap in on the phone-house end of all manner of Skype-to-landline/cellie/otherVOIP/etc convo hereaouts anywho. Just try speaking the truth from this one's Skype-equipped suite of the root causes of our current "Global Credit Freezeout on the US" or anything at all having to do with the Afghanistan Surge. Fort Meade, through which every voice call made in the US is apparently routed these days in defiance of all natural law and normal decency, robustly confirms the utterance's politically /outré/ accuracy by reliably forcing a Mysterious Disconnection™ on the spot.

Works for me every time, it do. Makes believers of others and stops all manner of bogus Nurse Ratched paranoia-theory argybargy from the other end of the convo cold in its tracks too... Makes for the odd laugh, too, at least for now. IBM gear was used to count all of Germany's Jews the last time out, this we already knew. On criking Hollerith punch-cards, no less... I digress.

Johnny Cash just finished doing "When the Man Comes 'Round" on the Internet radio, too.

So I just dial right back up and resume where we left off, mese'f. Criminal? Hmph. I report the nationally blacked-out REAL news to certain various interested peace-loving and self-actualized (also lowborn) human folk (and by proxy, yes, to their own associated parties here and there across the nation), is all. If the Maf' (Italian, Jewish, criking Romanian for all I care) don't call me onna' Skypephone every day, and on top of that tha' Big Capo don't buy just truckloads and shiploads of me very own handmade durable-jellied thin-section botanical-model glass flowers in exchange for fistfuls and suitcases of greenback dollahs, all paid in full like a pal over the Internet, what is that to me?

The plods are fishing for crime with loaded weapons. Our world in their barrel. Witches, they be hunting, because witches, being made of wood, both float and burn. So it has been said... Silly human race!

Coat: Check. Mine's the one with the part-filled-out Presidential and Congressional indictment complaints and petitions in the one pocket, and the Black Chopper Tracker Blocker blackbox gear in the other. Ta...

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