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Skype plugs Android privacy flaw

Less paranoia

Skype has plugged a privacy flaw in the Android version of its VoIP telephony software.

The update plugs a hole that created a possible mechanism for third-party apps to get access to private data (name, phone number, chat logs etc) held on the Skype directory on Android devices.

The security problem was discovered by independent software developer Justin Case and first reported on the Android Police smartphone security blog last weekend.

A rogue app could harvest a treasure trove of sensitive data, without root access or any special permissions, simply because Skype had made the mistake of storing personal data in a openly accessible and unencrypted files.

Skype’s chief information-security officer Adrian Asher acknowledged the flaw while stressing that the mobile telephony outfit has not come across any examples of its misuse by third-party malicious applications, though it would continue to monitor the situation. The firm advised users to download its software from the official Android Market or via Skype's web site, rather than unlicensed channels.

The updated smartphone software - released on Wednesday - also allows US users to piggyback onto 3G networks when making calls over Skype. Previously this facility, which users outside the US would take for granted, was only available from a select set of phones on the Verizon network, relegating other stateside users to Skype calling only when they accessed the service over Wi-Fi networks.

Skype-to-Skype calls and text are free, but there's a fee if you want to call landlines or mobiles outside the service. ®

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