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Skype and Symantec and security and lack of

By Chris Dawson February 7, 2007 - 11:55 pm

“Skype was built from the ground up with security in mind”, or that’s what a Skype news release states, while announcing that Skype and Symantec are to cobrand a PC Security website. Symantec and Skype are to combine marketing efforts with promotions to business users who click from Skype to purchase Norton security and anti-virus products. Skype has certified Symantec Norton products confirming that they “meet Skype’s strict standards for security, quality and usability.”

Useability is one area Skype has never been hot on, for starters where’s the ability to selectively show your online status whilst hiding from users you don’t wish interuptions from? Invisibility is fine, but there is always that one person you don’t mind contacting you that you’d rather could see you were online. Then there’s Skype “events”, that is such a techy term! Events? Just what does that mean to the average user? Then how about interoperability with other IM clients? This however might not be totally down to Skype as other IM vendors are just as jealous guarding their userbase and blocking attempts from others to integrate.

Security is the name of the Skype game today though, so it must be desperately embarrassing on the day you announce a security partnership for it to be revealed that Skype is spying on users. Just to make it worse the .com file in Skype that spies on you has come to light because Skype didn’t realise it calls the NT Virtual Dos Machine and that isn’t present in 64bit versions of windows. On top of snooping on users Skype’s programmers have commited a faux pas and are behind the times.

The blogosphere is hot with techie types investigating what Skype are up to, and it appears they are reading your system BIOS and gathering your motherboard serial number. No one has yet come up with an explanation as to why Skype would want this information even less what the side effects of the dodgy code could be. Skype developer forum have acknowledged the issue, but offer no explanation as to what they’re up to. Maybe Symantec could explain it for us all?

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