Governments Listen to You - Just Not The Way You Think
It should have come as no real surprise that Skype's China-based partner had been intercepting, logging, and even blocking text messages traversing the Skype network through China. A Canadian research group discovered the activity after breaching the insecure Chinese servers (which in itself was a dubious activity, but since the data was available from a web server that was outward facing, it can be argued that it was permissable).
Based on a previously disclosed set of text filters, the modified filters allowed for a broader set of communications to be intercepted and logged, apparently without Skype's knowledge. As the original filter was described, it was meant to drop text messages that had been deemed inappropriate and not transmit them anywhere. The modified system seems to have resulted in the messages being transmitted to centralised servers for further storing.
It is interesting that the tracking servers appeared to have been compromised by others before the research group came along. This opens up some interesting possibilities to pressure people of interest, based on intercepting already intercepted messages. It would be possible to alert people to the fact they are being routinely logged, even for traffic that does not match any filterable words, as well as lean on people by blackmailing them into doing what you ask them to - after all, you have copies of their text conversations.
7 October 2008
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