Despite Microsoft having been warned of the issue, for more than two months Skype has been vulnerable to a bug that enabled attackers to easily hijack any user’s Skype account.
Details of the vulnerability were first published in August on an online Russian-language hacking forum. Tuesday, the same Russian hacking forum user posted an update, reporting that the flaw still hadn’t been fixed.
That finally led Skype Wednesday to acknowledge the security vulnerability and begin working on a fix. “Early this morning we were notified of user concerns surrounding the security of the password reset feature on our website. This issue affected some users where multiple Skype accounts were registered to the same email address,” wrote Skype Web quality assurance engineer Leonas Sendrauskas in a blog post. “We suspended the password reset feature temporarily this morning as a precaution and have made updates to the password reset process today so that it is now working properly. We are reaching out to a small number of users who may have been impacted to assist as necessary. Skype is committed to providing a safe and secure communications experience to our users and we apologize for the inconvenience.”
Skype, the online phone service long favored by political dissidents, criminals and others eager to communicate beyond the reach of governments, has expanded its cooperation with law enforcement authorities to make online chats and other user information available to police, said industry and government officials familiar with the changes.
Surveillance of the audio and video feeds remains impractical — even when courts issue warrants, say industry officials with direct knowledge of the matter. But that barrier could eventually vanish as Skype becomes one of the world’s most popular forms of telecommunication
For years, Apple has directly and indirectly promoted and inspired the rumor industry that envelops the company.
The changes to online chats, which are written messages conveyed almost instantaneously between users, result in part from technical upgrades to Skype that were instituted to address outages and other stability issues since Microsoft bought the company last year. Officials of the United States and other countries have long pushed to expand their access to newer forms of communications to resolve an issue that the FBI calls the “going dark” problem.
Microsoft has approached the issue with “tremendous sensitivity and a canny awareness of what the issues would be,” said an industry official familiar with Microsoft’s plans, who like several people interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the issue publicly. The company has “a long track record of working successfully with law enforcement here and internationally,” he added.
The changes, which give the authorities access to addresses and credit card numbers, have drawn quiet applause in law enforcement circles but hostility from many activists and analysts.
Authorities had for years complained that Skype’s encryption and other features made tracking drug lords, pedophiles and terrorists more difficult. Jihadis recommended the service on online forums. Police listening to traditional wiretaps occasionally would hear wary suspects say to one another, “Hey, let’s talk on Skype.”
37% of internet users ages 12-17 participate in video chats with others using applications such as Skype, Googletalk or iChat. Girls are more likely than boys to have such chats.
27% of internet-using teens 12-17 record and upload video to the internet. One major difference between now and 2006 is that online girls are just as likely these days to upload video as online boys.
13% of internet-using teens stream video live to the internet for other people to watch.
Social media users are much more likely than those who do not use social media to engage in all three video behaviors studied.
Some 95% of teens 12-17 use the internet, according to a survey of 799 teens conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project between April 19 and July 14, 2011. In that study, the teens were asked about a number of online behaviors and the results for video-oriented activities are reported here.
Skype has launched version 2.1 of its application for Android devices, bringing video-chatting support to a host of new handsets.
According to the company, the update allows 17 more handsets to work with its video-calling feature. The HTC Evo 3D, HTC Evo 4G, Samsung Galaxy S II, and several other phones now support the feature. In addition, Skype said today that if users have smartphones not included in the list, but have a device running Android 2.2 (Froyo) or above, they should be able to enable video calling by turning it on in the app’s settings.
You have to wonder whether Microsoft is secretly laughing about this release. In a fractured market, it is almost impossible to release an app that works with every device. Hulu found this out back in June, releasing an app that worked on 6 of the 310 Android devices available at the time. Skype added a whopping 17 more devices to it’s list of supported Android devices today. But wait, there’s more than meets the eye here. In actuality, video calling is only available to a grand total of 4 devices out of 300-plus Android based devices that are in the market.
But before all you Android handset owners jump to the Android Market to download the improved app, note that there is something of a catch. According to Skype, only the HTC Desire S, Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo, Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro, and the Google Nexus S support video calling. Skype said in a blog post that it plans to support more devices “very soon.”
I wonder how soon “very soon” is…
As Paul Ducklin predicted only a few days ago, scams related to Facebook’s launch of a video chat service powered by Skype are surfacing.
This particular scam doesn’t use the actual Facebook video service as Paul has predicted they will do, but it certainly is trying to ride the media coattails and attention Facebook’s announcement generated this week.
What is clever about this one is that if it were true that Facebook Video Chat was an application, you might be more easily convinced to approve the application to have more liberal permissions.
These scammers apparently are in agreement with Mark Zuckerberg that Facebook’s new video chat is “awesome”, or at least awesome enough to exploit.
The following advice is given in the article to stay safe.
If you see a wall post referencing “Enable video calls.”, don’t click it! Send your friend a message that they have been tricked.
Facebook Video Chat scam
Here’s a smattering of comments about Zuckerberg’s presentation, in which he announced a new video-conferencing feature. These popped up on Facebook, during the event in Palo Alto, California:
— “omg! I’ll just read about it later. This is like water torture.”
— “Im gona play solitaire if he doesn’t get on with it”
— “Someone needs to bump him to get him to stop saying UM”
— “After this, I need an UM detox program..”
At one point, Zuckerberg — forever the geek — pulled up a chart about Facebook’s projected growth, which he introduced as a “log-normalized graph.” The Internet’s collective eyes rolled back.
I don’t know which was trashed more - the announcement or the presentation. Better luck next time, Mr. Zuckerberg.
Over the last year, the messages team has been working to make it easier to have one on one conversations with your friends. In November, we launched the new messages, which brings together your chats, texts, emails and messages all in one place.
Today I’m excited to introduce video calling and other improvements to chat.
As expected, Facebook is announcing video-chat and group chat improvements today. We’ll see what else they have to say, if anything, as the event progresses. CNET has a live-blog of the event happening here. So far, this isn’t exactly “awesome” stuff they are announcing.
Update 10:45AM - that’s it. Nothing else to announce. I am completely underwhelmed.
Facebook is having an event Wednesday, and one report says it will be to announce a partnership with Skype to support video chat.
In a post today, TechCrunch cited “a source with knowledge of the partnership” that Facebook will introduce an in-browser video-chatting feature that is “powered by Skype.”
I guess we will find out on Wednesday what is up Mark Zuckerberg’s sleeve. I’m not sure that video chat integration is that “awesome”, since you can list your Skype info on your Facebook profile already, if you wish. Facebook chat isn’t exactly the smoothest chat experience available. I’m also curious as to how Facebook will deal with the bandwidth requirements.
Skype Technologies SA, the Internet- calling service being bought by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), is firing senior executives before the deal closes, a move that reduces the value of their payout, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Vice Presidents David Gurle, Christopher Dean, Russ Shaw and Don Albert were dismissed from the Luxembourg-based company, said the people, who requested anonymity because the departures aren’t public. Chief Marketing Officer Doug Bewsher and Anne Gillespie, head of human resources, were also fired. Executives Ramu Sunkara and Allyson Campa, from the 2011 Qik purchase, were also let go.
I wonder if anyone besides the founders of Skype were happy about this buyout? If they were, I would assume that they are less excited now…
If this is the official position, this is downright evil. If not, the head of the Russian Microsoft should go.
Most people like Skype because it’s cheap. In Russia, like other countries with an overzealous security service, Skype is seen as a necessary tool by human rights activists, who count on it being free of nosy eavesdroppers. Now that might all change, thanks to Microsoft, which bought Skype for $8.5 billion last month.
“I would like to do that,” Microsoft Russia head Nikolai Pryanishnikov told Interfax when asked if he would hand over Skype’s encryption code to the FSB. He said that no such talks, however, were currently underway.