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back to article Skype denies system upgrade enables in-call spying

Skype has issued a formal denial to reports that it has been allowing law enforcement to listen in on users' calls following a change in its system architecture. "Some media stories recently have suggested Skype may be acting improperly or based on ulterior motives against our users' interests. Nothing could be more contrary to …

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Meh

But Shirley

they would say that, wouldn't they?

Let's face it, if "they" want to find out what you're up to, "they" will. By hook or by crook.

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Re: But Shirley

Google lied

Apple lied

Microsoft lied

Facebook lied

And

Skype.......?

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Anonymous Coward

Voice recognition?

Mention anything in particular and get targeted advertising.

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Bronze badge

Re: But Shirley

And

Skype.... is owned by Microsoft, which says it all really.

Damned if they deny it, damned if they don't. Of course, they'd deny it if they were doing it, and they'd deny it if they weren't, so I see little value is official denials like this.

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Big Brother

Re: But Shirley

"Nothing could be more contrary to the Skype philosophy"

...is this actually a denial?

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Re: But Shirley

"Microsoft lied"

Aren't Skype now part of Microsoft, and isn't an MS back door mandatory?

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According to the policy on their website

They will supply: "Content and/or traffic data to an appropriate judicial, law enforcement or government authority lawfully requesting such information."

So basically everything is recorded by the governments in every country skype operate in.

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Re: According to the policy on their website

More accurately they require a warrant if you happen to be a US citizen, otherwise you are screwed.

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Well they probably don't record all calls yet...

... but they certainly have advertised that they work together with governments for years.

Their system allows them to easily decrypt any conversation and even to turn on their microphone whenever they want or even read the user's files. It's closed source software.

Now of course they claim to check every request for legalily. I wonder to what lengths they go through. What will they do if they get a letter from the general inquisitor of Polyhedria or Molvania?

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Re: According to the policy on their website

>they require a warrant

Or just a quiet word from somebody in a dark suit from a 3 letter agency.

After all we are all on the same side here, and it's a matter of national security - no need for all that paperwork.

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Big Brother

Really?

This is the same company that wants to monitor your traffic in order to deliver in-call targeted advertising. Why would giving data to <insert government here> be much different? Either way, you are being profiled.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Re: Phorming a Profile is one thing ...... Making Great Use of it with IT and Media is quite another

Was this auto generated spam crap or what?

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Re: Phorming a Profile is one thing ...... Making Great Use of it with IT and Media is quite another

That would then be what, Martin Summers. Interesting to know though, that you think machines are so capable of generating human reaction. I am right in assuming you are acting as a human, yes?

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If you don't do it yourself...

...then don't trust it, basically.

All the telecoms provide hooks into the system for the government / law enforcement. The degree of Judicial oversight in this is not something I know a lot about, but the technology is pretty simple and available - someone basically taps in the number they want to intercept and listens in. I was interviewed for a job working on such a system for a telecomm years ago. Some years back in Greece, a hacker managed to eavesdrop on various politicians and business leaders by the getting control of the technology to do this for him or herself. Vodafone was the company in question that time, but it really could have been pretty much any of them. There's zero doubt that Skype have the easy technology to do this. So if they are asked to do it under a country's laws (laws which these days also say you're not allowed to tell anyone that you've been asked to provide this information as well), then it's probable that they are.

I mean - how are we doing with the charges against the Bush administration for ordering illegal wiretaps? Oh, charges were dropped by the Obama administration? Really? You don't say.

If you want to trust secure communications, secure them yourself. Seriously.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If you don't do it yourself...

Did you contribute to "THRIVE: What On Earth Will It Take?"

I think you are probably right by the way, trivial and easily justified in the war on (what is it this time?).

We should see the control and intercept results ending up higher than governments though.

New world order, new Skype routing, lets get some really big corporations hanging on the chatter of the populace.

Luckily my calls are protected by a banality force field, no machine or person can recall more than snippets.

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Re: If you don't do it yourself...

"New world order, new Skype routing, lets get some really big corporations hanging on the chatter of the populace." .... AC Posted Saturday 28th July 2012 10:56 GMT

If they are not already, and haven't been for some considerable time, then have they lost the knack which provides unassailable lead, AC. Pulling out the constructive new and disruptive gems from the chatter though is not at all easy, and may even be well beyond their abilities/facilities' capabilities.

Then does one have to supply them directly with that which they need to feed and seed, or catastrophic collapse of their systems is guaranteed.

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Murphy's Law .... or is it Sod's Law :-)

Pulling out the constructive new and disruptive gems from the chatter though is not at all easy, and may even be well beyond their abilities/facilities' capabilities.

Then does one have to supply them directly with that which they need to feed and seed, or catastrophic collapse of their systems is guaranteed.

And just to prove the exception to the rule, and how easy it can be made some times, is an earlier gem of a post, which had probably far too much of the truth freely shared, whisked away out of sight and into quarantine ....... This post has been deleted by a moderator ..... [the one missing and in reply to Wile E. Veteran, Posted Friday 27th July 2012 23:46 GMT]

And whenever things like that happen, can you imagine the secrets that it spills, and the new paths that it opens up?

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Anonymous Coward

Open Book

Unfortunately we live in an age where it really is possible to record just about everything. I don't think governments, even democratic ones, really care about the public's right to privacy. Imagine how useful it is for them to build-up profiles of everyone through your browsing history, shopping purchases, financial transactions, journeys, etc. For example, Southampton council seem to think it's ok to record the private conversations between taxi drivers and passengers, despite the information commissioner saying it's disproportionate.

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Big Brother

This is simple to confirm

Show us the code, Skype.

Open source it, if you have the balls. In the meantime, folks, have a read of this Register article from some years ago:

Austrian official fuels Skype backdoor rumours

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Re: This is simple to confirm

I am sorry, but where exactly does Skype even claim that they don't spy on their users? Why do you assume they don't?

The whole point of using a complex system like Skype and not just simply SIP and IPv6 is that Skype makes it easy to control the network.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is simple to confirm

The source is not relevant IMO, sure the text communication is encrypted or I should rather say obscured with RC4 and voice communication is AES, but guess who has and shares the decryption keys?

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Re: This is simple to confirm

right here: http://cryptome.org/isp-spy/skype-spy.pdf

and here: http://cryptome.org/isp-spy/skype-log-spy.pdf

they've been doing it forever

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WTF?

Microsoft has alwys slept with the Feds ...

so I ask you: Does a tiger change it's spots?

I use Skype PLUS PGP for secure transmission.

What MS doesn't realise is that there are many more evil governments other than just the USA and a leaky Skype could cost some people their lives, even if they are the good guys.

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Happy

Re: Microsoft has alwys slept with the Feds ...

> so I ask you: Does a tiger change it's spots?

Not really because it doesn't have any ;-). Talk to the leopard....

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Happy

Positive and honest philosophy enforced after Redmond take over.

"Nothing could be more contrary to the Skype philosophy"

is only a distant cousin three times removed to the word "No".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Positive and honest philosophy enforced after Redmond take over.

Who exactly is the guy trying to kid?

Skype doesn't exist as an independent entity any more. There isn't a 'Skype philosophy' any more.

It used to be 'Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite'. Now it's 'Travail, Famille, Patrie'.

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Find out for yourself

Look at Resource Monitor (or equivalent software for your OS) for network activity for the Skype process, if the destination IP matches your friend's IP, chances are you're alright.

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Re: Find out for yourself

The call technical info tab will also show if a call is going directly or being relayed through supernodes (needs to be enabled in options, then the option appears on the menu), i'd only be suspicious if all of your calls are being relayed even though you have global reachability (inbound allowed through firewalls/forwarded through 1:n NATs etc).

Theoretically that tab could lie about it and claim a call isn't relayed whilst it is, but so far i've not seen anyone claiming this can happen - and this would require sending a "you are being monitored, lie to the user" signal to the client, whereas forcing all calls to relay can be done by the supernode quite easily without the client being aware of it.

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Go

Re: Find out for yourself

or run wireshark with appropriate filters.

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Translation

Skype has issued a formal denial to reports that it has been allowing law enforcement to listen in on users' calls following a change in its system architecture.

So, I guess that means they're letting the police listen to Skype calls, then?

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Re: Translation

Technically they are saying that nothing has changed regarding what law enforcement are allowed to listen in on as a result of the architecture change, it makes no comment on how much they were allowed to listen in on before only that it hasn't changed since then.

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Not just USA spooks

Or even the Russian Intelligence getting access to Skype http://oaksys.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/russia-to-get-access-to-skype.html

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Anonymous Coward

Spoken Punctuation?

Never trust anyone who finds it necessary to speak punctuation. Period.

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FAIL

The first sentence doesn't describe what Skype discussed...

"Skype has issued a formal denial to reports that it has been allowing law enforcement to listen in on users' calls following a change in its system architecture."

Er, no, that's not what Mark Gillett said. The questions all had qualifications:

"It has been suggested that Skype made changes in its architecture at the behest of Microsoft in order to provide law enforcement with greater access to our users' communications."

"It has been suggested that as a result of recent architecture changes Skype now monitors and records audio and video calls of our users."

"It has been suggested that the changes we have made were made to facilitate law enforcement access to instant messages on Skype."

The only claim Skype made is that THE CHANGES don't improve monitoring and access. He doesn't say that Skype doesn't monitor or records audio and video calls, have easy L.E. access etc.

Mark Gillett is deceiving by omission, and it's sad that most readers leap to the implication and not the facts of his very careful choice of words.

The ONLY question he needs to answer is:

"Can Skype monitor and/or record audio and/or video calls of Skype users?"

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Actually my only question needs improvement

The question Skype needs to answer is:

"Can Skype directly monitor and/or record audio and/or video calls of Skype users, and/or can third parties such as law enforcement do the same?"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Actually my only question needs improvement

The answer to that is yes, of course they can and of course they do.

The real question is whether they have ever done so without a lawful interception warrant.

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Meh

I think the question is also the answer.

Can Skype.

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Between AIRock and a Hard Place are there only Two Derivative Options*?

If/whenever Skype/Microsoft/the Binary Virtual Operating System can do as is not admitted but reasonably expected to be a default facility as is being revealed here on this thread, is there then a a serious question to be asked of any and all intelligence services, as to why they would not be using the messaging facility to make contact with beings of interest to them, with regard to anything they may be doing online/with CyberSpace.

Failure to initiate and engage in what would most probably be a quite surreal and sensitive intelligence dialogue, would indicate to such beings of interest that available advanced intelligence in such fields is generally and specifically/strategically and tactically missing. Then is the global human operating indefensible and the continuing executive administrative position of existing power and control hierarchies/systems leverages, untenable and self-defeating.

* Payment of DaneGeld and/or Terms of Unconditional Surrender to Prevent Catastrophic Systems Collapse/Overload/Flash Crash which you might like to consider in dialogue with considerably more advanced beings may actually be Slush Funding for Unbelievable Help ...... which would be Trinity of Readily Available and Easily Delivered Options for Anonymous Invisible Assistance in preference to an All Out, Guaranteed Successful, Digital Infrastructure Systems Attack, which would be/could then be argued the fault of Skype/Microsoft if/whenever IT has such a comprehensive and invasive monitoring and mentoring utility which it fails to utilise to fabulous constructive and beneficial effect ..... although a lack of intelligence/systemic ignorance may be a valid and acceptable defence in any explanation for catastrophic losses, although that will bring no comfort at all, methinks, whenever other options are known to have been presented to avert the virtual disasters.

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Anonymous Coward

All governments want encryption that is perfect but for which they have a back door.

If an encryption system was ever perfect, then it will be circumvented.

I'm troubled.

The reason I'm troubled is not because MI5, or the CIA or whoever, are listening to my calls, my facebook rants etc, and they're turning up at my house and planting bugs in advance of me being jailed for being subversive, because my rants are no different to anyone else's.

I'm not even bothered that they know I wrote to Andrew Lansley to reinstate OTC simvastatin because men die in droves, and the lazy currant couldn't get off his fat arse to even move because he's too busy screwing nurses out of their pensions, and that my cousin's kid, dropped dead last week, mid forties, and it's all his fault. He can't say he wasn't warned. And because I'm still here, not languishing in jail, waiting for the opportunity to give the lazy tosser a slap. The man's a currant and he needs a slap, I can think of no other way to register my disappointment at his awful management of the NHS. Hopefully time will heal my feelings of anger to the worthless currant, but in the meantime, I see no secret police putting me under house arrest. In fact even wikileaky man is still wandering free.

What I _am_ bothered about, is that our government is clearly employing ex airline hostesses in the field of law enforcement, because they have been unable to find a way of tracking all the nutters who plan to blow up the olympics, because they're talking on Facebook, without intercepting large amounts of IP traffic. How difficult can it be to find what they're saying without massive traffic analysis? Are these people thicker than my mother?

How diffiicult can it be, to find some previously unknown kid who raves about killing a stadium full of people? It's not like they hide their intentions is it? You've just got to sit on the Thameslink on a Friday night and watch them ranting like members of the BNP. They can't keep their opinions to themselves even if they wanted to. Actually, while I'm myself ranting, it's obvious which ones the mullahs are priming, you just find some spotty young lad who women don't fancy, no mates, insecure, and angry about the world. who is clearly craving to be a man, and you con him into carrying a bomb onto a bus and killing himself for your political aims. How hard are they to spot? - Short, poor - because they're on benefits, spotty, no girlfriend because they haven't got a job, because they deem their religion doesn't allow them to contribute tax that doesn't recognise their god is the man, and how many women hang out with the unemployed? Instead of trying to identify these people why don't we just wait until they've killed a bus full of people, then poison their priest. Poisoning Catholic Priests, (and Rev Paisley,) would have solved Northern Irelands problems far quicker than anything else I reckon.

Nothing cures extremists like a bit of selective genocide.

</rant>

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Joke

They are telling the truth

They are telling the truth. The Police and FBI DO NOT have the ability to listen to skype calls...

It's the NSA, CIA, MI5 and MI6 who have the skype backdoors dude!

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Facepalm

Re: They are telling the truth

There will be some very bored spies if they listen into my Skype calls. Half the time I can barely stay awake myself.

Actually having grown up in a small village where the local exchange couldn't cope and we all had 'party lines' (not as much fun as it sounds - they are lines shared between multiple homes) where your neighbours could easily listen in to your calls, I have always worked on the principle that anybody could be listening into my calls.

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The Register goes Deep C++ Phishing ..... AIMegaMetaDataBase Trawling*

They are telling the truth. The Police and FBI DO NOT have the ability to listen to skype calls...

It's the NSA, CIA, MI5 and MI6 who have the skype backdoors dude! .... LinkOfHyrule Posted Sunday 29th July 2012 18:11 GMT

And who in those four wannabe leading spook outfits provides personnel leadership in a universal, mutually beneficial, positively constructive direction, LinkOfHyrule, is an awkward question, for to imagine that all have a home team/internal department so engaged, is to realise that conflicts are guaranteed with journeys/events perpetrated/realities imposed which are not collectively phormed and pre-agreed.

And with no evidence of a coherent and constructive communicative streaming of events but myriad media reports of the exact opposite, is the probable reality that spooky personnel have no idea of the much bigger picture and grander great games which are being played, and what they should and/or could be doing with the facilities to mentor and monitor which they may now possess and/or have access to.

But they are being encouraged/baited/targeted to enquire, and in so doing reveal that they might be suitable organisations for the stewardship of newly uncovered/discovered/rediscovered and reprogrammed power levers for command and control systems ........ in a Virtual Reorganisation and AIMakeover and Immaculate Takeover of Failing Status Quo InfraStructures.

I Kid U Not. And the corollary of that encouragement is, that any and all failures to engage and enquire reveals national and international services which are generally perceived and/or pimped to be intelligent bodies, to be anything but and a great deal less able and enabled than is needed for Future Great IntelAIgents Games purpose.

And here is a tasty worm on one of those baited hooks phishing for super future intelligence in intelligence services ....... Knock, knock. Is there anybody SMARTR in there

* .... with a Creepy Crawly CyberSpace Spider, Man, which is not be confused with the lesser potted, Crappy Crowley Bug Variant.

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Joke

Just think

How much tit and gash you could intercept on video call.

I'm sure some bugger has been enjoying my GF's tits at the same time as me.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just think

And posting it on Motherless.

Take a look, she's there, saw her last week.

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Re: Just think

Shit!, you're right!

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Re: Just think

Link?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just think

"Tit and gash"

Please grow up. Do you wonder why there is a problem with women not entering IT when language like that is used on forums like this?

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Anonymous Coward

Why buy it

They do think that everyone is an idiot.

Microsoft buys Skype. Within a week they move all the peer to peer supernodes into thier own DC in the USA. At a massive cost and of no real benefit, if anything it would be a risk to thier existing services.

What other reason could they possibly have?

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Re: Why buy it

Because the DC is under their control, will be cheaper in the long run, *should* have better DR, upgrades are easier, onsite maintenance (should as replacing HDD's) is easier, backups are easier.

In fact pretty much the same reasons ever other large business in the world centralise their servers.

Sheez really need to break out the tin foil hats around here.

Trust me, far easier to tap into your standard phone lines than Skype, yet we seem to have been happy to use them for the last 100 years or so.

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