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Skype and Peer-to-Peer: A Combination That May Spell Security Risk

According to a new study, it is possible to link Skype users to their activities on such peer-to-peer networks as BitTorrent by connecting the Skype user’s IP address, which can be decoded without their knowledge, to the files they share at those peer-to-peer sites.


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Computer World is reporting on a recent study that reveals a possible security risk for users of the popular online video phone service. According to the study, it is possible to link Skype users to their activities on such peer-to-peer networks as BitTorrent by connecting the Skype user’s IP address, which can be decoded without their knowledge, to the files they share at those peer-to-peer sites.

No one is implying that a Skype call now constitutes a major security risk. For instance, a user could be logged in from a VPN with a data centre in a different country, making tracking more difficult. The tracking process also identifies only the machine on which the files are shared, not the actual person doing the sharing. However, this could have big implications for entertainment companies trying to track illegal file sharing and prosecute the guilty parties.

Adrian Asher, Skype’s Chief Information Security Officer, issued a statement which reads, in part, “Just as with typical internet communications software, Skype users who are connected may be able to determine each other’s IP address. Through research and development, we will continue to make advances in this area and improvements to our software.”

The study itself goes into a lot of technical detail that will likely only interest IT security and network experts. But for the rest of us, the implications are pretty clear: if you use Skype and also do some file sharing on the side, someone may be tracking your activities.

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