Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/16/skype_security_holes/

Privacy group demands answers from Skype

How secure is secure?

By John Oates

Posted in Security, 16th March 2011 11:39 GMT

Lobby group Privacy International is demanding Skype improves its VoIP service to properly protect the privacy of its users.

PI said it had reviewed Skype's security and had specific concerns including the VoIP service's use of full names on the contact list, which makes it easy for people to impersonate others.

The lack of an HTTPS download service means that a third party could interfere with the initial installation of the Skype client by tricking people into installing their own Trojan-infected version of the software.

Privacy International is also worried about the codec Skype uses to compress audio calls. PI reckons the VBR compression codec allows between 50 and 90 per cent of phrases to be identified.

The lobby group notes that many Skype users live under repressive regimes where the security, or not, of their private conversations may have serious consequences.

Eric King, Privacy International's Human Rights and Technology Advisor, said: "Skype's misleading security assurances continue to expose users around the world to unnecessary and dangerous risk. It's time for Skype to own up to the reality of its security and to take a leadership position in global communications."

PI calls on Skype to act quickly to resolve these problems in order to protect its users.

Privacy International's blog on Skype security is here.

A spokesman for Skype said: "Privacy International has not been in touch with us so it will take us some time to read and digest the report before we are in a position to respond. We will look into the points they have raised and will reach out to them. Skype takes these issues seriously and aims to provide users with the best possible levels of privacy and security."®