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Communications Microsoft Privacy Security

Russian FSB Can Reportedly Tap Skype Calls 136

An anonymous reader writes "Previous reports of a Microsoft provided backdoor to Skype has been unconfirmed. However, there are now reports that Russian federal security service FSB is able to tap call and locate users. 'FSB and the Internal Affairs Ministry (MVD) have been capable to wiretap and locate Skype users for some years already, reported Vedomosti on Thursday [Google translation of Russian original]. The newspaper is citing experts on information security. "Special services have been capable for several years not only to wiretap but also to locate a Skype user. That's why, for instance, employees of our company are forbidden to discuss business-related topics on Skype," General Director of Group-IB, Ilya Sachkov, says to Vedomosti. "After Microsoft acquired Skype in May 2011, it updated the software with technology allowing legitimate wiretapping," says Maksim Emm, Director of Peak Systems.'"
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Russian FSB Can Reportedly Tap Skype Calls

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  • by staltz (2782655) on Friday March 15, 2013 @09:16AM (#43182131) Homepage

    The Skype P2P protocol has always been an issue to worry about. It's hard to break/understand, and I've seen research papers that just scratched the surface of the protocol.

    I never doubted that really smart minds (like Russians) would eventually crack it and exploit it. This would never happen with an open-source protocol.

  • by Albanach (527650) on Friday March 15, 2013 @09:18AM (#43182155) Homepage

    And therein we learn the lesson about closed source software and proprietary methods. If folk had adopted something based on SIP, XMPP, IAX or any other open and documented protocol, we'd be able to communicate using a tried and tested security mechanism.

    For something like communications, if you're totally and absolutely reliant upon a third party then you also need to have total and absolute trust in that third party or you should consider all your communications using them to be public.

  • How shocking! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Friday March 15, 2013 @09:18AM (#43182169)

    Closed source software with obscure network protocol, now owned by a corporation whose main concern isn't the users' best interest, turns out to be not so nice after all. News at 10...

    The best way to do use Skype for anything more important than saying hello to your grandmother for free on the internet is not to use Skype. Everybody with half a brain has known that for many years.Duh...

  • Re:A reminder. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Friday March 15, 2013 @09:21AM (#43182195)

    Soviet Union was disbanded in the 90's


    Russia still remains. The KGB is now the FSB. Russia is more open, but it's still not the USA.

    And speaking of the USA, you do realize that Project Echelon and similar efforts have been busily tapping into communications in the Land of the Free for longer than there was a Skype?

  • Re:A reminder. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Friday March 15, 2013 @09:29AM (#43182245)

    You speak of the US as if they wouldn't do exactly the same thing (and almost certainly are). This is why there should be an open implementation that supports proper security.

  • by Pi1grim (1956208) on Friday March 15, 2013 @09:35AM (#43182275)

    Ofcource if I worked for FSB and was unable to tap into Skype, I'd start spreading FUD about how well I can tap into it. To make them more over to less secure means of communication.
    Anyway, I hope this will lead to boost in developing a solution with good crypto. Like jingle or SIP with encyption and it's wide adoption. Not that it's happening anytime soon, but a man can dream...

  • Special services (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ls671 (1122017) on Friday March 15, 2013 @09:40AM (#43182321) Homepage

    Special services have been capable for several years not only to wiretap but also to locate a Skype user.

    Special services have been capable for several years not only to wiretap but also to locate cellular phone and landline users.

  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Friday March 15, 2013 @10:02AM (#43182547) Journal

    Microsoft has never met a dictator or despot they didn't like.

    Nor has any other business approaching the size of Microsoft. In fact, nobody can get that big without 'assistance' from the authorities. Despotism is big business, the rewards are well worth the collateral damages.

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Friday March 15, 2013 @10:40AM (#43182909)
    As an American I'm less bothered about the FSB doing it that than the NSA. Seriously, for my personal stuff, what does the FSB care? I'm much more concerned about the NSA (and if it can be done, I'm sure they are). For similar reasons I use Kaspersky on my personal computers. The FSB doesn't care about my bank account or the web sites I visit. The NSA/CIA/FBI maybe another story. Not that I'm terribly interesting, but having once looked at a web site that was slightly to the left of the Democratic party, I'm probably on some automated terrorist watchlist somewhere.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 15, 2013 @11:03AM (#43183137)

    You say "decode" as though it is trivial.

    You should read up a bit on encryption.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 15, 2013 @11:29AM (#43183425)
    No, see, K. S. Kyosuke was saying that Steve Jobs was a dictator or despot that Microsoft did not like. Not that Apple had also never met a dictator or despot that they did not like.
  • Re:Jitsi (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Friday March 15, 2013 @11:34AM (#43183497) Homepage Journal

    aka "The Path to Idiocracy". It's true, though, and it should be an object lesson that technically sound software needs to be trivially easy to install and configure as well if it's to do much societal good.

I have a theory that it's impossible to prove anything, but I can't prove it.