Friday, October 3, 2008

Surveillance system found in Chinese version of Skype

Tom-Skype, a joint venture between a Chinese wireless operator and eBay, the Web auctioneer that owns Skype (an online phone and text messaging service), has routinely been storing messages with politically sensitive keywords, along with with personal user records.

A research group at the University of Toronto, Citizen Lab, discovered an encrypted list of words inside the Tom-Skype software, which, in turn, monitors messages containing those words. Encrypted copies of messages containing the words are sent to servers that also store personal information about the customers who sent the messages. They also record chat conversations between Tom-Skype users and Skype users outside China.

The researchers were able to download and analyze copies of the surveillance data because the Chinese computers were misconfigured. The computer directories were readable with a simple Web browser and researchers also found a file containing the key needed to decode the encrypted files. The researchers said they did not know who was operating the surveillance system.

See, "Surveillance of Skype Messages Found in China ," New York Times, October 1, 2008, at

No comments: