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An even stronger defense would be to use a relay, so that a sent packet must pass through an intermediate computer that Skype owns and then is re-sent to users.That way, they would only see Skype’s address, not the address of the party they’re connecting to, Ross says.To prove this, they called 10,000 random Skype users every hour for two weeks to discover where they were, a task that required about 20 computers working in parallel.“It took two months for two Ph Ds to pull off that technical feat,” Ross noted.His group, which studies peer-to-peer security, wanted to confirm what they think is obvious about the vulnerability of such systems and started with Skype because of its popularity.Specifically, they tested whether they could modify Skype transmissions and still obtain the Internet provider address of an unwitting Skype user.on behalf of Adrian Asher, Skype’s Chief Information Security Officer, saying: “We value the privacy of our users and are committed to making our products as secure as possible.Just as with typical internet communications software, Skype users who are connected may be able to determine each other’s IP address.

We show that the problem with Skype is particularly serious because any hacker can track the mobility and locations of any Skype user.”Currently, Microsoft’s Security Response Center is in touch with French members of the [research] team.That would require a major change in design, testing, and redistribution of software to all users, which could take years to implement, he noted.Skype has more than a half-billion registered users, reportedly, and a monthly average of 170 million active ones who use it for phoning, texting, instant messaging, and video conferencing (30 million concurrently).The researchers confirmed that intruders can use Skype to discover which files call recipients are sharing, and track their whereabouts, too.The information can be collected without the Skype user even knowing that he or she has been contacted (and is at risk of exploitation).But a malicious caller can obtain a callee’s IP address by initiating a Skype call, blocking certain functions, and then quickly terminating the call without ringing or causing an alert window to pop up.The caller can then input the IP address into commercial geo-IP mapping software to determine where the receiver is and what Internet service provider he or she uses.Keith Ross, says he was surprised to find that attackers could inconspicuously obtain the IP address of any Skype user, and that such breaches would only require the skill of a sophisticated, high school-aged hacker.He explained, “A hacker anywhere in the world could easily track the whereabouts and file-sharing habits of a Skype user–from private citizens to celebrities and politicians–and use the information for purposes of stalking, blackmail, or fraud.”The challenge for the researchers was to demonstrate that hypothetically, they could track large numbers of people employed by any organization.When people use voice and video online to call one another, both can be vulnerable because an “electronic handshake” confirming their connection involves exchanges of packets of data.They therefore reveal their IP addresses to one another.

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