Is Skype Safe?

February 18, 2011 § 1 Comment

This question is interesting for two reasons. First, practically speaking, Skype is probably the most popular VoIP application in the world. As someone who occasionally uses Skype on public wifi networks, I want to know how likely it is that anyone in the vicinity was listening in on my conversation. Second, Skype serves as an archetype of the proprietary network protocol, and a test case for how much we should trust the claims of software vendors.

Background

“Safe” is a vague term, and there are a number of distinct concerns one might have about the safety of Skype (or anything else). Does running Skype put my computer at risk ¬†of compromise? Are my Skype conversations safe from the eyes of the guy sitting next to me at the coffee shop? What about other Skype users? What about Skype or the NSA? For the purposes of this discussion, I am primarily interested in the question of privacy, not the question of vulnerabilities that lead to compromise.

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