Is Skype spying on you?

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from Adam Richardson

Online privacy and security issues have been an incredibly hot topic for the past two weeks.  We here at Q Wealth Report we have been warning you about (and offering solutions to) the massive invasions of your privacy for years.

But with stories of data recording, monitoring and sharing by governments and businesses alike once again dominating the news cycle, we decided it was time to offer our (rightfully concerned) readers some options.

We’ll be speaking with several of our friends and Experts on the topic.

First up is a friend of ours from Brazil, guest writer Pedro Goncalves of Sociedade Internacional writing about online chat security.

Enter Pedro…

If you think the private messages you send over Skype are protected by end-to-end encryption, think again.

 

The Microsoft-owned service regularly scans message contents for signs of fraud, and company managers may log the results

Time For Real Privacy Solutions
Time For Real Privacy Solutions

indefinitely.

So the next time you use Skype, enjoy its easy instant messaging, its very nice user interface, and its many other benefits.

Just don’t think that your chatting is 100% anonymous and secure.

To be fair, Sociedade Internacional communicates via Skype with many of our clients. But we also offer fully encrypted open source instant messaging alternative to those clients who require completely confidential communication.

We control the chat server, encryption mechanism as well as authentication of our clients.

Of course we take privacy of our clients very seriously and support not only encrypted chat, but also encrypted email communication via PGP  and encryption of important files.

Now let’s take a closer look at Skype.

Skype operates on a peer-to-peer model, but requires registration with a central server. Furthermore, the protocol that Skype uses has not been made publicly available and is closed-source.

Skype incorporates some features, which tend to hide its traffic, but it is not specifically designed to thwart traffic analysis and therefore does not provide anonymous communication.

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.”

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. According to a 2012 Washington Post article, Skype “has expanded its cooperation with law enforcement authorities to make online chats and other user information available to police”; the article additionally mentions Skype made changes to allow authorities access to addresses and credit card numbers.

We could continue with more examples of Skype’s weakness regarding the security of your conversations, but I think we have already made the point. Skype is a great communication tool, but consider this communication insecure and possibly available to third parties in some circumstances.

And of course more or less the same applies to other popular chat solutions, such as AOL Instant Messenger, Facebook Messenger, Google Talk or Yahoo! Messenger. Consider yourself warned!

So what is the solution if you are concerned about the privacy of your instant messaging?

We believe that if you need security you need to control both endpoints, that is the server and client.

One of the best solutions is to have your own chat server (installed locally on your computer or on a server that you directly control) based on XMPP open source protocol, coupled with open source instant messaging clients.

The two people chatting establish their own encryption phrase and authenticate each other. In using the above, there is no third party that can control your chat server and encryption mechanism. There is no middle man or central server that can snoop on your conversation.

Not only can you disable logging and send encrypted messages, you can even make sure your chat partner is who you think they are through a question-and-answer system, a shared secret, or digital fingerprint verification.

We will provide more detailed information on the technical setup in the near future…anyone can configure their own, ultra private chat communication – stay tuned!

“Contact Pedro for all Brazil specific issues related to offshore companies, taxation, private banking, precious metals, etc.  Refer to his website here http://www.sociedadeinternacional.com/

 

Adam again…

I will be publishing Part 2 (the solution!) of this article in the coming days.  Other “news” sources are content to scare you with this type of information and leave it at that.  

Not us.  

Remember our mission statement – To Bring Actionable Intel and Solutions to FREE + THINKING + INDIVIDUALS.

 

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