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  1. #1
    Lounger
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    Skype security problems?

    I am thinking of getting SKYPE and a WebCam for chating with my grandchildren out of state. However I am wondering if a program such as this opens my system up to any security threats for virus, trojan, worms, etc; beyond what is normal on the web. Also I will probaly download the latest version of SKYPE from FileHippo unless for some reason that is not a good choice???

    Can someone explain how SKYPE is free as they must be making money somewhere along the way in order to continue the service?

    Thanks
    Glenn

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  3. #2
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    I have very limited knowledge of Skype.

    Like any program that runs 24x7, if you allow it to do so, it is actively listening for connections (either on a local port or through a Skype server) and that does involve some small amount of incremental exposure. If you only turn on Skype when you are expecting or placing a call, then you can minimize the window.

    People have reported receiving unsolicited contacts from strangers once they appear in the Skype directory. You can choose to be unlisted, and that's probably a good idea.

  4. #3
    mart44
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    I and members of the family have Skype running all the time our computers are on. We have been doing so for a few years without security problems. It's not that we communicate constantly but when we appear online in Skype, it's an indication to us that all is well. Nobody has dropped dead etc. Quite useful for that alone. We don't feel the need to talk just because a couple of us are online. Skype can be set so that only people in your contacts list (family and friends) can call you.

    Skype makes money on other services. Group video communications require a subscription and so do calls to land-line telephones. I put a few Pounds of credit into Skype so that I can use it to call telephone numbers. A couple of other useful features are Instant Messaging and being ableto transfer files from one Skype user to another. About the only criticism is that it uses quite a bit of memory for something that just mostly sits around waiting. It runs at about 120MB.

  5. #4
    3 Star Lounger
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    I use Skype frequently. As far as I know, Skype encrypts all transmissions, including voice. So, it is more secured than most.
    As in any Windows software, infection of the PC will render an application vulnerable. It may not be Skype's problem though.
    For example, if you have a USB webcam connected, or with a built-in webcam and microphone, a virus could use the hardware, no need to use them via Skype.
    It has been reported that the virus uses the webcam and microphone to 'monitor' the victim and to gain damaging video and audio information. It has been reported that damaging video clips have been used to blackmail the victim.
    I'd say, video is more damaging than audio, if stolen.
    It is my custom to disconnect my USB webcam routinely until I need to use it. I also routinelly stick a small piece sticky yellow pad paper onto the webcam of my laptop, or on the desktop USB webcam (if I do not disconnect the USB webcam.)

    I remove the sticky paper when I need to use the webcam. It doubles as an 'anti-embarrassment' tool. If we are not dress properly at home, at least my Skype friends will not see it!

  6. #5
    New Lounger
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    My Skype usage

    I've been using Skype as my long distance phone service for 4 years. I turn my computer on in the morning and off when I go to bed. Skype is running continuously during that time. My far flung family and I use it to keep in touch for free and I use it every day to call phones and send faxes. The only problem I've had is with strangers wanting to be added to my contacts. I merely say no, end of problem. Skype makes this very easy. I have not had any security issues with Skype but I do run an excellent malware suite, I keep all my apps up to date with the help of Secunia and a part of my computer maintenance routine includes deep malware scans with several very good tools just in case something slips through. I have yet to find any malware that has gotten in via Skype. I only hope that Microsoft, the new owners of Skype, don't mess up a good thing! They've already jacked the subscription price up. Skype to Skype remains free of charge.

  7. #6
    New Lounger
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    I've been using Skype for many years now. It is a superb product that allows me to connect with family/friends overseas, as well as placing phone calls to fixed landlines in Australia and overseas. I have a pre-paid subscription for placing phone calls, which is dirt cheap. Within the program, Skype security is excellent.

    HOWEVER, there are email phishing scams, and last year I inadvertently replied to one, which took me to a fake website coming from Russia (It also inserted a trojan horse into my computer, which took me several hours to clean out.) Skype will NEVER email you with special offers or upgrades. All its correspondence and promotions come through the Skype program itself. It will only use email when you ask it to reset a forgotten password or the like. If you are updating the program, always do so within the program and never from a website, even reliable ones.

  8. #7
    Star Lounger
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    Only thing to add is that skype stores your sms and instant messages on your computer only (til you delete them), so unlike some social networking programs, you don't need to worry about confidential information. But be a bit careful about the information you put in your public profile - you need enough that your friends searching for you can find you, but not enough to provide info to others that you wouldn't want them to have.

  9. #8
    New Lounger
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    You can set Skype for security and privacy. I never reveal my email address on Skype, and I don't connect to Facebook via Skype, that would open up a can of worms. I have been a satisfied Skype user (and customer) for many years. Mostly chat and sometimes voice. When I spoke to my daughter Skype-to-Skype it was like she was in the room. I was helping her with bus schedules and we could look at the same page on the Net and make her booking. I also use Skype-to-Phone as it is dirt cheap, less than two cents a minute whether here in Australia or landlines in Europe/UK, and both landlines and cell phones in the USA, where I have many relatives, including my 92-year old mother. When we shifted, I gave the telephone company a heave ho, and now I do everything either on my mobile (cell phone) or through my wireless wi-fi account bundled with my mobile phone plan. I have never looked back. Without Skype, I would lose contact with family, friends and people over the years with whom I have done Family History.

  10. #9
    3 Star Lounger
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    As a long time user of Skype, I have a fully patched, protected Win 7 system. Recently someone hacked the Skype database and used my credit card details to purchase many dollars of credit for calls to Eastern europe. Skype's response was that it must have been my fault, although they did cancel fraudlent charges to my credit card. To be safe I got the credit card company to cancel the card and issue a new one. The result of this was that I visited all sites which have my credit card details for shopping, subscriptions etc. and removed the card information - I will just have to make a note to renew manually, a small price to pay!
    David P - The Truth Is In Redmond

  11. #10
    New Lounger
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    That's terrible! ~ Please read my previous note, where I almost gave away my credit card details to scammers in Russia. Have you ever replied to a "Skype" email? I renew my credits, but within the Skype program. I guess there's a reminder here that security on the Web is paramount. I will change my automatic renewal feature and do manual transactions from now on. Thank you for sharing your sorry tale.

  12. #11
    New Lounger
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    Unless things have changed in the last few months, the main security problem at the moment with Skype is the way you cannot turn off the auto-updates. I find the latest versions of Skype to be big and bloated. There was a time in the version numbers that even though in the settings the auto-update was set to OFF, Skype insisted on updating. In principle I strongly object to this. So I found a discussion on a Skype forum, and went back to version 3.8. I found this still available on File Hippo. When I installed version 3.8 I had to act quickly because by default auto-update was on. To prevent this I had to turn off the internet connection while I made the adjustment.

    You may well like the newer versions of Skype. Not all of us do. It is your choice. At the moment version 3.8 continues to work well for me, and I prefer the older interface.

  13. #12
    Star Lounger lesle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpollock View Post
    As a long time user of Skype, I have a fully patched, protected Win 7 system. Recently someone hacked the Skype database and used my credit card details to purchase many dollars of credit for calls to Eastern europe. Skype's response was that it must have been my fault, although they did cancel fraudlent charges to my credit card. To be safe I got the credit card company to cancel the card and issue a new one. The result of this was that I visited all sites which have my credit card details for shopping, subscriptions etc. and removed the card information - I will just have to make a note to renew manually, a small price to pay!
    YMMV, but check this: http://www.shopshield.net/

  14. #13
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Straight from the Horse's Mouth

    If you think Skype does not listen to your conversations, and does not store and even sell the contents thereof, you really should read this from Wikipedia.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skype#Security_and_privacy


    "In an interview Kurt Sauer, the Chief Security Officer of Skype, said, "We provide a safe communication option. I will not tell you whether we can listen or not."[69] Skype's client uses an undocumented and proprietary protocol. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is concerned by user privacy issues arising from using proprietary software and protocols and has made a replacement for Skype one of their high priority projects.[70] Security researchers Biondi and Desclaux have speculated that Skype may have a back door, since Skype sends traffic even when it is turned off and because Skype has taken extreme measures to obfuscate their traffic and functioning of their program.[71] Several media sources reported that at a meeting about the "Lawful interception of IP based services" held on 25 June 2008, high-ranking unnamed officials at the Austrian interior ministry said that they could listen in on Skype conversations without problems. Austrian public broadcasting service ORF, citing minutes from the meeting, reported that "the Austrian police are able to listen in on Skype connections". Skype declined to comment on the reports.[72][73]"


    Also, follow the embedded link to learn who the Free Software Foundation is, and what they do. Another organization which has red-flagged Skype is the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF).


    All of this and more is must reading for anyone who uses Skype, Magic Jack, or Vonage. All of these VOIP services can and do spy on users and all sell the personal information they collect. No US laws apply to VOIP communicatins -- they are NOT subject to Wire Tap restrictions.
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2011-11-21 at 05:09.
    -- Bob Primak --

  15. #14
    New Lounger Lost in Cyberspace's Avatar
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    I have read awful things about skype also. it is a nice program that would be really great if not for the ability to misuse it by certain agencies. Any sense of security is a falsehood, just as privacy is an illusion, so is democracy and freedom.

    Lost in a hostile world, once a paradise, ruined by greed.
    No political solution can solve problems. Money isn't everything. When offering free info, and say, "we'll only tell you so much, then you have to pay," Yes, people need to support themselves but NOT by creating an elite, privilaged group who gets everything just because they can pay for it. In a fair society, everyone is Equal.

  16. #15
    3 Star Lounger
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    My extra 2 cents re Skype privacy.
    (First off, IMHO, Skype is 'more private' than others.)
    Well said on some posts here. Basically to me, no absolute privacy in any place on Earth, or maybe in this entire universe. If you're religious, at least The One knows.
    Big brother is always there. If not, at least commercial ones are at work to farm privacy for profit.

    Absolute privacy and zero privacy are the two extremes, and they are only illusions.
    We are somewhere in between.
    The <<degree>> of privacy separates us; from you and me, and from others. So, we're arguing the minors here.

    I prefer compare privacy in relative terms, rather than to the absolute extremes (which never exist).

    Think of bad boys/girls, terrorists, use the encrypted Skype to communicate. A country will be either publicly, or silently, listening in on Skype. A 'smart' country will make their people comfortable in believing that their privacy is not invaded. The brute force one (and honest one) tells it to your face. But they both invade your privacy, no less.

    A better privacy gauge is:
    Your privacy is indeed intruded, but your privacy is BETTER protected from being exposed easily.

    If you forget about the paranoid, Skype is **relatively** 'more private' than most communication conduits; (at least better than Ma Bell phone, cell phone, email).

    It is nice that someone, or a public institution or an organization, tells me that certain organizations, or govt, are intruding our privacy. It is to our advantage. But keep your privacy illusion in check. Use the information to help you choose a 'better privacy' conduit. That is it.

    P.S.
    Re VOIP phone service and privacy: Your Internet Service Provider itself is already poking your privacy. And govt certainly can get the information from them.
    You'd have to disappear from this Universe (not just from Earth) to be 'better' privacy. Just the physical presence itself already provides privacy intrusion. Camera and video, anyone?
    And if Aliens are watching from afar deep space ... and String Theory in Physics posits that there are 16 parallel universe all at once (meaning 16 of you and me simultaneously) ...

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