Feeds

Austrian official fuels Skype backdoor rumours

'No particular problems' to listening in

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Off the cuff remarks by Austrian government officials suggest that Skype conversations might be intercepted.

Speaking at a recent meeting on lawful interception between ISPs and Austrian regulators, an unnamed "high-ranking" official at Austria's interior ministry said that listening into a conversation over Skype presented no particular problems, Heise security reports.

The opinion contrasts with the view of Joerg Ziercke, president of Germany's Federal Police Office (BKA). At a meeting last November Ziercke said that the inability to decipher the encryption used by Skype in order to intercept VoIP calls had become a problem in counter-terrorism investigations. Weeks after this, leaked documents outlining plans by German firm Digitask to develop software to intercept Skype VoIP communications and SSL transmissions, along with related costing and licensing proposals, surfaced through Wikileaks.

Skype runs using a proprietary protocol. Unlike Phil Zimmermann's Zfone project, for example, its source code has not been publicly released. So even though Skype has commissioned security experts to audit its technology (which incorporates trusted encryption techniques, such as Advanced Encryption Standard, to encrypt conversations and RSA for key negotiation) doubts have remained.

For example, security experts Philippe Biondi and Fabrice Desclaux have voiced concerns) that Skype has the keys to decrypt calls or sessions, a claim Skype denies.

Access to such keys would provide backdoor access to conversations but it's worth remembering, as is the case with warrants for regular phone conversations, that law enforcement agencies are more often interested in knowing who an investigative target is talking to than what they are saying. Skype offers confidentiality, but it makes no claims of offering anonymity.

For example two years ago, a fugitive chief exec was tracked to Sri Lanka after his location was given away by a conversation made using Skype. Papers on tracking anonymous peer-to-peer VoIP traffic provide clues on how this might have been accomplished. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Google recommends pronounceable passwords
Super Chrome goes into battle with Mr Mxyzptlk
Reddit wipes clean leaked celeb nudie pics, tells users to zip it
Now we've had all THAT TRAFFIC, we 'deplore' this theft
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
TorrentLocker unpicked: Crypto coding shocker defeats extortionists
Lousy XOR opens door into which victims can shove a foot
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.