Intelligence agencies can intercept Skype calls

March 22, 2013

Early this week, while keeping tabs with latest news from Moscow I came across a story in one of the local dailies in Russian language, Vedomosti that left me wondering if there is any privacy that exist online in our day to day lives. The Russian newspaper had carried a story that claimed Federal Security Service has the ability to intercept Skype calls for several years without a court warrant. The Russian newspaper claimed that conversations over Skype are eavesdropped by intelligence agencies and can also determine the location of user. In its story, Vedomosti quoted a source that said Microsoft’s purchase of Skype made it possible to eavesdrop on users easily. The newspaper detailed how call set ups between any user accounts can now be directed to go through a central server that generates the encryption keys that were previously created on users’ devices.

Such development allows calls and other communications to be decrypted and intercepted. The newspaper report noted that Microsoft has provided this interception ability to other security services around to the world, to be used for legitimate wiretapping of communications. Since the story surfaced, a muscovite friend of mine revealed to me that his Russian employee has banned all staff from using Skype out of concern that their communications are secretly listened to by rival companies and industrial espionage perpetrators. For those who don’t know, Skype voice, video calls and instant messages are routed directly between users in a peer to peers fashion without a central server. They are then encoded locally according to the 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard. It has for a very long time been assumed that eavesdropping on communications would be impossible in practice but the new reports have all but shattered that belief.

Those who understand Russian language like me can read the whole story http://www.vedomosti.ru/politics/news/10030771/skype_proslushivayut

 

Contador Harrison