NSA Wants Help Eavesdropping on Skype
At least, according to an anonymous "industry source":
The spybiz exec, who preferred to remain anonymous, confirmed that Skype continues to be a major problem for government listening agencies, spooks and police. This was already thought to be the case, following requests from German authorities for special intercept/bugging powers to help them deal with Skype-loving malefactors. Britain's GCHQ has also stated that it has severe problems intercepting VoIP and internet communication in general.
Skype in particular is a serious problem for spooks and cops. Being P2P, the network can't be accessed by the company providing it and the authorities can't gain access by that route. The company won't disclose details of its encryption, either, and isn't required to as it is Europe based. This lack of openness prompts many security pros to rubbish Skype on "security through obscurity" grounds: but nonetheless it remains a popular choice with those who think they might find themselves under surveillance. Rumour suggests that America's NSA may be able to break Skype encryption -- assuming they have access to a given call or message -- but nobody else.
The NSA may be able to do that: but it seems that if so, this uses up too much of the agency's resources at present.
I'm sure this is a real problem. Here's an article claiming that Italian criminals are using Skype more than the telephone because of eavesdropping concerns.
Posted on February 23, 2009 at 6:51 AM • 37 Comments