back to article Austrian official fuels Skype backdoor rumours

Off the cuff remarks by Austrian government officials suggest that Skype conversations might be intercepted. Speaking at a recent meeting on lawful interception between ISPs and Austrian regulators, an unnamed "high-ranking" official at Austria's interior ministry said that listening into a conversation over Skype presented no …


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  1. Andy Barber


    Bring back Strowger switching.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Someone is lying.

    If Skype isn't secure then it's the Germans trying to give criminals a false sense of security.

    If Skype is secure then it's the Austrians trying FUD tactics to dissuade criminals from using it.

  3. Twyst

    @'Someone is lying.'

    Not necessarily. If this is a governmental official, it's far more likely that he/she just doesn't have a clue what he/she is talking about than someone is being dishonest. Government types get technology wrong so often it's more suprising when they get something right.

  4. Mark

    Could it be a case of

    Ve haf vays of hearing you talk!

  5. Peter Gold badge

    It's not the first time I've heard this

    I've heard this in circles I expect to have real knowledge of such a capability, so I treat Skype like any other phone: potentially tapped.

    If I want secure comms I'll set up an Asterisk server with VPN and accounts for those I want to talk to..

  6. Dan

    Who cares?

    Nobody knows how secure Skype is. If you want security, use an open source client such as WengoPhone which is proven not to have back doors. Nobody is forcing anyone to use Skype.

  7. Joshua Goodall
    Black Helicopters


    A regulator saying something is "not a problem" is probably speaking from the regulatory perspective. In other words, meaning "not a legal problem".

    Trust a bunch of nerds to interpret it as meaning "no technical barriers".

    At least get some clarification.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    You don't always need to decrypt the transmissions

    Even during WWII and Vietnam the analysis of the source-destination and levels of traffic produced actionable intelligence.

  9. IanD

    Seems to require a trojan on the suspect's PC

    If you take a look at the English translation at

    "The concept of DigiTask intends to install a so called Skype-Capture-Unit on the PC of the surveilled person."

    so it's a trojan to intercept at the client side, rather than anything scary?

  10. Paul Taylor

    More secure than other methods.

    Lets face it, Skype is more secure than using your mobile phone, or a LandLine.

    For a Free product it offers excellent security and value.

  11. dave lawless

    Radovan Karadžić

    The weirdy beardy would-be dictator was caught because of who he phoned, not because he phoned to say goodbye.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Skype is secure.

    I seem to recall the people looking after my wife and kids at night, had invented Public Key cryptography and key exchange a decade before it was invented in the outside world, and no-one found out for twenty years. I'm frankly glad these guys are out there looking after the safety of my wife and kids at night.

    Despite this, I believe that Skype is secure, because I believe that the CEO, and everybody in the chain of command, is completely free from interference from the world's governments trying to stop the destruction of civilisation, and, though I'd help myself, I believe these guys are just out to make money, and so I believe they've withstood the might of the Western World's law machine, and their techies have, via keeping their algorithms secret prevented the world's government cryptanalysts out. After all, there are some smart guys out there working in the private sector.

  13. Wayland Sothcott

    Skype is not ours

    Skype belongs to a company who don't publish how it works. So you don't really know if it has wire tap access points built in.

    Anything going through your sound card could be tapped at the point that it's just audio.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    listening in.

    The vast number of ways two or more indiviudals can communicate via the intertubes is mind boggling. For a start you've got 62000+ ports to communicate on. Then you have two primary kinds of packet. Then you have three different kinds of communication (video, audio or plain text). Then you've got numerous forms of encryption.

    Simply put - if a terrorist cell wanted to communicate safely it wouldn't take a rocket scientist. Just a disillusioned programmer.

    But then, if the security forces stopped looking for magic wands and trying to collect terabytes of useless data they'd have more time for more effective measures. Maybe they'd be able to make their own secure communication network... Now there's a thought.

    Reason most large attacks are missed is two fold, number one - there is so much information gathered using drag net techniques it is impossible to differentiate between the legitmate and the fantasy, and number two - as odd as terrorists may be, they're rarely stupid (not the ones that pull off succesful operations). Stupid terrorists tend to come up with plans that don't work and weapons that fail to function. Like trying to set propane cans alight.

    At the end of the day, it's down to luck, and convincing most people that we arn't out to screw them over...

    These people arn't supposed to be looking after you or wife or your kids, they're supposed to be protecting our way of life, and that, they are failing miserably at as we decend ever further into totaltarian fascism.

    But whatever, mines the one with the work visa to a decent country in it.

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