Skype and Privacy

Recently Heise reported in a news that a privacy problem in Skype was found: Microsoft would read the content of transmitted messages and also access websites whose URLs where named in the message.

Really a problem?

At least at ZDNet there is a different view. In fact there are HTTP HEAD requests on servers whose URLs where named in Skype text messages and Microsoft also explained the intention for this. The discovery by Heise that also confidential data in the URL, as usernames and passwords, also appear is completely correct – but not a problem of Skype. You can of course argue if there is access to intercept conversations for the administration – but who is transmitting confidential data using a service like Skype unencrypted must not expect that those data will never be read by a third party. For e-mail there is also no guarantee that no one has access to the data on the way.

Skype may show the risks of unencrypted transmission – but those risks are independent of Skype. One possible solution would be “OTR” which is used in alternative Skype clients (e.g. IM+ for Android) to encrypt the messages. Also possible would be GnuPG – even when this is a bit more complicated in handling it would be totaly sufficient for occasional usage.

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