Will Skype Solve Security Woes Now?

I've got Skype set to accept incoming calls, video calls or instant messages only from people in my Contact list. Yet every time I log into Skype, I see a few chat messages from obvious spam accounts, asking me to "rate my Webcam" or "meet in private." Inevitably, when I flip over to my contact roster, I notice that the spammers have added themselves to my contact list, freeing them to bother me in other ways if I don't immediately block them. I first noticed this problem with one of the first non-beta builds of Skype 4.0, but it certainly continues through to the latest builds of 4.1. And I'm hardly the only one experiencing this, and it doesn't seem particular to whether the user is on a Mac or a PC. A PR guy working with Skype suggested that accounts accessing Skype from multiple computers may find the security settings differ slightly from instance to instance -- which may lead to this problem. I access Skype from two different Windows PCs, a MacBook and my iPhone. On the computers, I've found the privacy settings all match. If those same privacy settings exist on the iPhone, I've yet to find them, so perhaps the hole lies there. But if so, Skype needs to add those settings to its iPhone instance. One can't help but wonder if the potentially pending divorce of eBay from the underlying Joltid technology Skype uses has led to a stoppage or massive slowdown of development on the Skype we all currently use. eBay recently announced a development initiative for a replacement peer-to-peer technology to replace the existing technology, in case the legal wrangling between eBay and Joltid goes south. If eBay is investing in a massive project to reinvent Skype for release sometime in 2010, it stands to reason the company is not actively working to improve the current Skype much. And it remains unclear whether Joltid will or can undertake that work in eBay's stead. But if Skype security problems are not addressed, and the network devolves into a morass of spam and illicit contacts, will users stick around to see whether the new technology is even worth their time?

I've got Skype set to accept incoming calls, video calls or instant messages only from people in my Contact list. Yet every time I log into Skype, I see a few chat messages from obvious spam accounts, asking me to "rate my Webcam" or "meet in private."

skype.jpg

Inevitably, when I flip over to my contact roster, I notice that the spammers have added themselves to my contact list, freeing them to bother me in other ways if I don't immediately block them.

I first noticed this problem with one of the first non-beta builds of Skype 4.0, but it certainly continues through to the latest builds of 4.1. And I'm hardly the only one experiencing this, and it doesn't seem particular to whether the user is on a Mac or a PC.

A PR guy working with Skype suggested that accounts accessing Skype from multiple computers may find the security settings differ slightly from instance to instance -- which may lead to this problem. I access Skype from two different Windows PCs, a MacBook and my iPhone. On the computers, I've found the privacy settings all match. If those same privacy settings exist on the iPhone, I've yet to find them, so perhaps the hole lies there. But if so, Skype needs to add those settings to its iPhone instance.

One can't help but wonder if the potentially pending divorce of eBay from the underlying Joltid technology Skype uses has led to a stoppage or massive slowdown of development on the Skype we all currently use. eBay recently announced a development initiative for a replacement peer-to-peer technology to replace the existing technology, in case the legal wrangling between eBay and Joltid goes south.

If eBay is investing in a massive project to reinvent Skype for release sometime in 2010, it stands to reason the company is not actively working to improve the current Skype much. And it remains unclear whether Joltid will or can undertake that work in eBay's stead.

But if Skype security problems are not addressed, and the network devolves into a morass of spam and illicit contacts, will users stick around to see whether the new technology is even worth their time?