Skype is a popular program used by people all over the world. Skype connects businesses with one another and lets foreign exchange students talk to their parents back home for free.
But there’s one thing that you probably didn’t know about Skype: it leaks sensitive information about you to the outside world. In fact, Skype constantly exposes your internet address to the entire world. And unfortunately, all it takes to reveal that internet address is a Skype ‘resolver’ which can be downloaded by anyone.
Some Skype resolvers are free, while others cost a bit of money. But using these resolvers, someone from anywhere in the world can track the location of another person simply by using their Skype username.
This has been going on for a long time
The fact that Skype reveals sensitive user data is no secret. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported on the problem back in May of 2012. In spite of that fact, most Skype users are oblivious to this security weakness and the danger it poses.
Why it’s a problem
Search for the keyword “skype resolver” on Google to find a wide range of software programs available to download. Each one of these programs allows someone to simply type in a username in order to reveal the internet address (IP address) of any Skype user. No other information besides the Skype username is required.
Knowing someone’s Skype username is relatively harmless. You can’t really do anything to them simply by knowing their Skype username. But when you know someone’s email address, you can cause serious trouble, including:
-Hack into their computer after locating the IP address
-Launch Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks against an individual or a website
-Prevent someone from accessing the internet
-Track the physical location of high profile individuals (or even average people) as they travel around the world
-The Skype resolvers work no matter what kinds of privacy settings or network settings are set by the user in the control panel
Not just Skype
This article seems to paint Skype in a bad light – and it does. But Skype isn’t the only networking program with a serious security weakness. In fact, all Peer to Peer (P2P) programs have this problem. In an interview with KrebsonSecurity.com, a Skype spokesperson said:
“This is an ongoing, industry-wide issue faced by all peer-to-peer software companies.”
So what can I do to protect myself?
The easiest way to protect your privacy is to use a proxy. Proxies act as a filter between your connection and the outside world, similar to a firewall. The proxy might be based in Africa, Europe, North America, or wherever. The point is, the person tracking the IP address would see the proxy’s address as opposed to the address of the individual.
To learn more about proxies and how you can use them to mask online activities, read this fantastic walkthrough by WhatIsMyIPAddress.com
If you don’t want to use a proxy, then you’re just going to have to wait for the Peer to Peer industry to figure out a new way to privately transfer data between two strangers on the internet – but don’t hold your breath. It could be a while.