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Special services were allowed to listen to Skype

Спецслужбам разрешили прослушивать Skype

The Russian special services have the opportunity to track conversations in Skype. This was told by several participants in the information security market, Vedomosti wrote.

Group-IB CEO Ilya Sachkov says that the special services “for a couple of years” can not only listen, but also determine the location of the Skype user. “That’s why our company’s employees, for example, are not allowed to communicate on work topics in Skype,” says Sachkov.

Nevertheless, the monetization policy added a banner that hangs almost on the entire Skype chat window.

It would be so nazoilovo if this banner did not appear during a video call on full screen.

After Microsoft acquired Skype in May 2011, it supplied Skype’s client with legal listening technology, says Peak Systems CEO Max Emm. Now any subscriber can be switched to a special mode in which the encryption keys that were previously generated on the subscriber’s phone or computer will be generated on the server.

Having access to the server, you can listen to the conversation or read the correspondence. Microsoft provides an opportunity to use this technology to special services around the world, including the Russian one, the expert explains.

According to two information security specialists, Russian special services do not always receive access to correspondence and conversations on Skype by a court decision — sometimes this happens “just by request.” It is impossible to consider that listening to Skype constitutes an insurmountable problem for Russian law enforcement agencies, the Interior Ministry official confirms.

Official representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the FSB declined to comment. Also, representatives from Microsoft. Earlier, the head of the Russian Microsoft, Nikolai Pryanishnikov, said that Microsoft could disclose the Skype source code to the Federal Security Service. By itself, the code would not allow the special services to listen to conversations, but with the help of its special services it would be easier to find a way to "decrypt" the information.

Just recently, it became known that the Chinese version of Skype has a special mechanism for tracking subscriber actions. Scientist Jeffrey Nokel from the University of New Mexico found that a keylogger, a special program that captures user actions on the keyboard, is built into the Chinese Skype distribution kit. She checks the texts for the content of unwanted words in them and forwards the collected logs "to the right place". Nokel made even a list of undesirable words: Tiananmen (the square where protest actions were suppressed in 1989), Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, BBC News, etc.