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Skype Saves User Data Unencrypted

With all the hullabaloo over security issues these days, the scanner is on some of the most popularly used apps and software.

Viber recently came under fire for using unencrypted methods of storing and relaying user data. This meant that Viber was really vulnerable to hacking and its information could be accessed by anyone with knowledge of hacking networks. After Viber, it seems it’s now Skype’s turn to be kept under scrutiny.

Online Security and Norms

While there are no norms governing online security of data transmitted through apps and software, it is the onus of the app or the software to ensure that user data remains private and protected. Encryption is the most popular method of transmitting data in a format that renders it unreadable to anyone without the encryption key. So if a company leaves its database unencrypted, it is violating the implicit trust between the software and its users. An unencrypted database exposes all the user information to all kinds of prying eyes, and makes it prone to cyber attacks.

How Is Skype Insecure?

Skype, being one of the most popular voice calling and video conferencing software, collects a lot of personal information including names, phone numbers, contacts, birthdays, and location details. Even full conversations had on Skype are usually stored on the Skype servers. It is assumed that all this information is private and kept secure using the most current security measures. Unfortunately, a recent research has shown that Skype does not take any security measures to protect user data from falling into the wrong hands. First, there is no encryption, and all the data is stored as plain text. Second, user’s account information – including his or her personal data and their chat conversations, are stored in a way that allows easy access to anyone who can reach an unprotected device. This is a clear invitation to cyber criminals.

How Can You Improve Security

There are some temporary measures you can perform to protect your own security, but unfortunately only concrete measures from Skype’s can really guarantee you any real security. Right now, any malware attack on the Skype servers could leave all of Skype users vulnerable to cyber attacks and identity theft. You could delete a file called main.db, every time you close the application on your device. This is a database file that contains all your user details. This is a tedious process, which will have to be performed every time you use Skype, but right now, there is no way around it. You can also change your settings to ensure that Skype does not store your chats on its servers. If you exchange a lot of sensitive information on your Skype chats, you should always delete your conversations and change your privacy settings. For long-term protection, you can also opt for disk encryption, which protects your entire hard drive from intruders and attacks. Keep your antivirus up to date and use a good firewall setting on your computer to ensure maximum safety from cyber criminals and malware attacks.

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