Is someone eavesdropping on your Skype calls?

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Joe Howell

Just how secure is a Skype call? It’s often thought that a phone call is pretty secure and an encrypted IP phone call almost impossible to listen in on. Not any longer though, the Austrian government have revealed that it is “not a problem” for them to listen in on Skype calls.

Skype is proprietary software so no one really knows how it works, there is speculation that there might be a backdoor built into Skype to allow legal authorities to eavesdrop on calls. If that’s not the case then it appears Skype may have a flaw in the set up of calls enabling the call security to be compromised. AES encryption that Skype uses is secure, but not if the keys exchanged when a call is set up can be captured.

It’s long been known that GCHQ can listen in to land line or mobile phone calls and they can also read your emails. Does it really matter if they can eavesdrop on your Skype calls as well?

If the government really want to listen in on my mindless wittering on phone calls then they’re welcome – all the time Skype is free I’ll carry on using it. After all the alternative is to use mobile or land line phones and they can listen in to them anyway.

The big question of course is who else is listening in on calls, if governments and Skype themselves can intercept conversations then how long before someone less desirable gains access and starts monitoring calls?

13 Responses

  1. If your not dealing drugs or planing a terrorist attack then theres too much skype traffic to worry about anyone listening to your call.

    That said I really don’t believe that if there was a back door in Skype the Australian government would be the first to know, last to know maybe!

    As for hacker’s listening in, certainly possible but your conversation will be lost in the massive amount of skype traffic unless you are specifically targeted by a government with a wiretap warrant.

    Of far more concern to anyone here might be the ease that the inland revenue and your local council can get access to your call records and email to prove tax evasion, or even that your running a business from home and not paying business rates.

  2. 80 billion annual Skype minutes to listen to! We finally found what Australian taxpayer are funding!

  3. How embarrassing, the worst thing was when i wrote it I was thinking about how the Americans always mix them up and how I better not make the same mistake ๐Ÿ™

    My apologies to any Austrians, or Australians reading.

  4. Its the same as always.
    You only have to worry if you have something to worry about.

    if your going to be a baddie then you’ll have to cope with the stress of being caught…

  5. Most of us don’t have anything to worry about if our conversations were overheard, but I hardly think that is the point. Apathy is dangerous, I think. What gets heard is not the point. It is that it can be heard. To acquiesce on such violations of privacy is a dangerous road to take.

  6. I agree with Max. The “if you’re not doing anything illegal, you have nothing to be afraid of” argument is an easy way to lose all our civil liberties: the right to oppose government, the right to oppose big business, the right to organise that opposition. The right to privacy and freedom of opinion should not be given up so passively.

  7. Is there such a thing as freedom of speech/civil liberties?

    I have views that most would deny me the right to have, that some sections of society would like to imprison me for (and has happened to fellow believers), views that are “unfashionable” nowadays.

    It seems to me, that everyone wants civil liberties, as long as everyone wants the same civil liberties as the pressure groups that scream loudest in society.

    Gay rights movement is an example of course, oppose their views and watch what happens.

    It is not civil.

    It is not liberty.

    It is a spirit of prescription, where you have to adhere to their point of view or be criminalised…

    Whenever any group gains a measure of power, they will always remove the liberties of those that oppose them.

    Tis human nature unfortunately.


  8. So what are you saying Mark Classic?

    That gay people should have kept quiet, and put up with being persecuted, attacked and discriminated against?

    You feel your civil liberties are restricted because of your ‘unfashionable’ beliefs so everybody else should lose theirs? What has that got to do with skype?


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