Skype Alert: Tool can ID IP Address

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 @ 12:05 PM gHale


Skype is investigating a new tool that collects a person’s last known IP address, a potential privacy-compromising issue.

Instructions posted on Pastebin showed how it is possible to show a person’s IP address without adding the targeted user as a contact by looking at the person’s general information and log files.

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“This is an ongoing, industry-wide issue faced by all peer-to-peer software companies,” said officials at Skype, owned by Microsoft. “We are committed to the safety and security of our customers and we are taking measures to help protect them.”

In October, Skype acknowledged a research paper showing how it is possible to determine a Skype user’s IP address without that user knowing. It also demonstrated more than half the time the IP address could accurately link to sharing content using the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol.

An IP address is an important piece of information that can track the approximate location of a user and their service provider. But the information is not necessarily accurate, as a person could be using a VPN, whose data center may in a different country than the actual user.

Another way to broadcast inaccurate IP addresses is browsing the Internet using The Onion Router (TOR), an anonymizing service that routes a person’s Internet traffic through a network of worldwide servers in a fashion that is difficult to trace. An IP address also just identifies a computer and not the person sitting behind a keyboard.

Skype uses a peer-to-peer system to route its data traffic, which it also encrypts. But its encryption system is proprietary and not open for scrutiny, which has prompted caution from security experts.



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