EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

05.16.13

Microsoft Skype Messaging Surveillance Not the Main Issue, Audio Recording (Bugging) and Computer Hijacking Are

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 12:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nokia phone

Summary: Debates about the dangers of Skype focus on one of the least dangerous aspects of Skype

THE PROBLEM with Skype is not quite what The H focuses on. Microsoft claims to be scanning people’s conversations to mitigate the threat of phishing scams and such, but this doesn’t quite compute unless they only ever test for redirections in HEAD. To say that Skype is tracking people’s conversations would not be shocking because even years ago (before Skype was taken up by Microsoft and the NSA) China was given access to text conversations for censorship purposes (similar to security purposes in the practical sense). This is well documented in news sites, especially in Western news sites that like to berate China over practices that the West too harbours, but always under plausible denial clauses.

For those who have not seen the widely-syndicated and discussed report from Heise (or The H), in English the summary says: “A Microsoft server accesses URLs sent in Skype chat messages, even if they are HTTPS URLs and contain account information. A reader of Heise publications notified Heise Security (link to German website, Google translation). They replicated the observation by sending links via Skype, including one to a private file storage account, and found that these URLs are shortly after accessed from a Microsoft IP address. When confronted, Microsoft claimed that this is part of an effort to detect and filter spam and phishing URLs.”

“The H and heise Security believe that, having consented to Microsoft using all data transmitted over the service pretty much however it likes, all Skype users should assume that this will actually happen and that the company is not going to reveal what exactly it gets up to with this data.”
      –The H
As the article in The H puts it: “Anyone who uses Skype has consented to the company reading everything they write. The H’s associates in Germany at heise Security have now discovered that the Microsoft subsidiary does in fact make use of this privilege in practice. Shortly after sending HTTPS URLs over the instant messaging service, those URLs receive an unannounced visit from Microsoft HQ in Redmond.

“A reader informed heise Security that he had observed some unusual network traffic following a Skype instant messaging conversation. The server indicated a potential replay attack. It turned out that an IP address which traced back to Microsoft had accessed the HTTPS URLs previously transmitted over Skype. Heise Security then reproduced the events by sending two test HTTPS URLs, one containing login information and one pointing to a private cloud-based file-sharing service.”

Microsoft’s excuses didn’t pass muster (the security excuse for surveillance, where all they can really test for is a redirection). “In summary,” says the author, “The H and heise Security believe that, having consented to Microsoft using all data transmitted over the service pretty much however it likes, all Skype users should assume that this will actually happen and that the company is not going to reveal what exactly it gets up to with this data.”

And from the comments we learn it’s worse than The H originally put it: “We tested it at mooncascade.com. I can confirm there is correlation between URL-s in Skype chats and web server access logs with traces from Redmond. There are both https and http accesses.”

Another commenter says:

So much about the “AES encryption” Skype promisses:

> All Skype-to-Skype voice, video, and instant message conversations
> are encrypted. This protects you from potential eavesdropping by
> malicious users.
>
> (https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA31/does-skype-use-encryption)

Aparently, this falls into the same category as “McDonalds food is
healty and tastes good”.

This whole debate, unfortunately, misses a key point; not just text conversations are being tracked but voice ones (relayed through US infrastructure) — the bread and butter of Skype — are also being tracked and Skype as a binary ensures not only that Windows is hijackable, as we showed before, but that all platforms are rendered hijackable when Skype is running in the background (Skype has no intention of addressing these issues). The debate should be altered to take account of these much greater threats. By the way, on Windows it doesn’t even take Skype to hijack a computer; Microsoft has just admitted that exploits in the wild exist that help hijack Windows through a built-in program and there is also software that lets people’s Facebook accounts get hijacked through Windows, including on Vista 8 (the operating system which hardly sells, leading Microsoft to lies and inexcusable disinformation).

“A much rarer event, however, is one of Redmond’s own unloading publicly on the faults of not only Windows, but Microsoft’s company culture.”
      –Gizmodo
The Free Software Foundation has long been campaigning against Skype, even before Microsoft took over. GNU/Linux with SKype binaries is just about as compromisable as other platforms. The weakest link counts. It is worth noting that even a Windows developer admits that Windows is inferior to Linux, stirring up further debate. As Gizmodo put it: “Right now, somewhere on the internet, there is a flame war occurring between devotees of Linux and Windows. It’s just the nature of passionate software evangelism. A much rarer event, however, is one of Redmond’s own unloading publicly on the faults of not only Windows, but Microsoft’s company culture.”

At Microsoft, backdoors are not a bug; sometimes they are a feature. Since nobody among the users can inspect the code or thoroughly interpret the binaries, it’s hard to remove the backdoors, let alone prove their existence.

“You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil system never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil. A good person will resist an evil system with his or her whole soul.”Mahatma Gandhi

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 4/5/2015: Many New Releases, Ubuntu Drone

    Links for the day



  2. Misplaced Focus on Patent Trolls and Patent Lawyers' Defence of Trolls

    Observations about media coverage and reactions to the focus on patent trolls, which distracts from desperately-needed reform around patent scope



  3. PATENT Act a 'Reform' for Big Corporations, Hence Does Not Address the Core Issues, Including Patent Scope and Massive Patent Aggressors

    Big corporations, including some of the biggest patent aggressors out there, successfully lobbied for what has essentially become a bipartisan bill to eliminate the thorn in their side



  4. Openwashing of Binary Blobs That Microsoft Uses to Attack Free Software and GNU/Linux From the Inside

    Media which is either willfully ignorant or complicit has successfully, based on volume of coverage, framed Microsoft's proprietary software as openness and nicety



  5. Microsoft Kills Netscape Again, This Time Removing It From the History Books

    Microsoft's embarrassing crimes against Netscape -- the ones that put Bill Gates on trial and nearly split Microsoft -- virtually forgotten as Netscape itself is made to 'disappear'



  6. Microsoft India's Unofficial 'Branch' Infosys is Torturing the Meaning of Open Source Software

    Infosys, which is best known for its promotion of Microsoft in India, is distorting the meaning of 'Open Source' and joins a non-profit that is supposed to promote programming, not binary blobs



  7. Microsoft Windows is Dying, British Government Should Spend No More Money on It

    Time for the Establishment in the UK to abandon the out-of-support Windows XP (from 2001) and join the next generation of computing, which increasingly revolves around GNU/Linux and Free/libre software, supported by truly British companies



  8. IRC Proceedings: April 5th - May 2nd, 2015

    Many IRC logs



  9. Links 3/5/2015: Black Lab 6.5 RC2

    Links for the day



  10. Links 2/5/2015: Robolinux 7.9.1, LibreOffice Numbering

    Links for the day



  11. Links 1/5/2015: HP Ubuntu Laptops, Arch Linux 2015.05.01

    Links for the day



  12. Links 30/4/2015: Plasma 4.4 in the Making

    Links for the day



  13. Microsoft Embracing, Extending, Extinguishing the Linux-centric Arduino and Raspberry Pi, Making Them Windows Devices

    Raspberry Pi and Arduino carry water for Microsoft as part of the publicity stunts for Vista 10, the operating system which Microsoft tells investors is "marketing"



  14. Microsoft Uses Ubuntu to Demonstrate and Promote Microsoft Lock-in

    Canonical's Ubuntu is now used as the bait by which to seduce developers in the GNU/Linux world into Microsoft dependencies, surveillance, and software patents



  15. The EPO's Tyrant, Benoît Battistelli, is Probably on His Way Out, Threatens to Resign

    The Napoleonic self-acclaimed 'president' of the EPO, who surrounded himself with loyal thugs and crushed all opposition to him (assuring reign by fear), reportedly threatens to fall on his sword if an independent mediator gets appointed



  16. Links 30/4/2015: Debian GNU/Hurd 2015, Microsoft Copies Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  17. Windows Recipes for Disaster (Met Police and Fukushima)

    Microsoft Windows mentality and strong dependencies continue to cause immeasurable damage that costs people a lot in terms money and in terms of health



  18. ‘Visual Studio Code’: Not News, Not Free, Not Open Source

    Another publicity stunt from Microsoft, this time going under the name ‘Visual Studio Code’, which is basically proprietary lock-in



  19. Microsoft's Patent Attacks on Android Not Covered in the Corporate Media, Only Microsoft as the 'Victim'

    Omission of important developments around Microsoft's war on GNU/Linux and Free software, notably against Android and ChromeOS as of late



  20. As Core Issues Still Not Addressed, Another Protest Against EPO Management Scheduled for Tomorrow in Munich, Germany

    On Thursday (tomorrow) yet another demonstration is organised in Munich, less than a week ahead of the UPC decision (May 5th)



  21. Pharmaceutical Patents and Hedge Funds: Evil Fighting Evil

    Revisiting the subject of patents on life or life-saving processes, plus a hedge fund's extortion-type attack on such patents (for quick profit)



  22. UCLA Foolishly Grooms Microsoft's Patent Troll Nathan Myhrvold (Intellectual Ventures), Who is Busy Attacking Android and Linux These Days

    More news about Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft's and Bill Gates' anti-Linux tool, who lost a battle because of last year's SCOTUS ruling and is now groomed by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)



  23. Links 28/4/2015: Plasma 5.3, Cutelyst 0.8.0

    Links for the day



  24. Links 28/4/2015: More on Debian 8 “Jessie”, Fedora 22 Beta Walkthrough

    Links for the day



  25. Microsoft is Attacking Android Like Never Before, Qisda the Latest to Sign Patent Extortion Deal

    More blackmail and propaganda against Android, courtesy of the gentler, kinder, 'new' Microsoft



  26. Caution Needed When Microsoft Copywriters Flood the Media With Microsoft Propaganda

    Media actively subverted by Microsoft-sponsored agents of deception, whose goal is to change what people think of Microsoft and its software, even if by lying (they call it 'marketing')



  27. Gartner Staff That Worked for Microsoft and the Latest Nonsense from Gartner or 'Former' Staff

    Gartner waited until 2015 to declare FOSS fit for databases; another example spotted where Gartner staff comes from Microsoft or vice versa



  28. Links 27/4/2015: Debian 9 Named, Linux 4.1 Reaches RC

    Links for the day



  29. Microsoft is Interjecting Itself Into GNU/Linux and Free Software News, Even Events and Foundations

    Microsoft's entryism strategy is proving effective as Microsoft successfully embeds itself inside the idealogical competition, subverting the competition's overall message and diluting the competition's focus on Free software



  30. The Unethical Business of Selling Fear of Free/Libre Software Bugs (Black Duck, Sonatype, and Symantec)

    The spreading of fear of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) is now a growth industry, so proprietary opportunists are eager to capitalise on it, even if by distorting the truth


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts