Russian security agencies got an opportunity to tap conversations on the Skype internet chat service, information security market participants told the Vedomosti business daily. Group-IB Director-General Ilya Sachkov said for two years already secret services have been able not only to tap Skype conversations, but also to track a user’s whereabouts.
“Therefore, for instance, our company’s employees are forbidden to discuss work-related issues through Skype,” Sachkov said.
Soon after Microsoft bought Skype in May 2011, it provided a Skype client with a legal eavesdropping technology, Peak Systems Executive Director Maxim Emm said. Now any Skype user can be switched to a special mode, where cipher keys that were earlier generated at a user’s phone or computer will be generated on the server.
Getting an access to the server, any user’s calls or chats can be eavesdropped. Microsoft provides an opportunity to use this technology for secret services all over the world, including those in Russia, the expert said.
According to the information security specialists, Russian secret services not always get an access to Skype chats and conversations at the court’s ruling, sometimes this happens “simply at the request.” A Russian Interior Ministry official confirmed that it is unnecessary to think that Skype eavesdropping is an insurmountable problem for Russian law enforcement agencies. Official representatives of the Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service declined to make any comments.
Two Russian businessmen, who had moved to London, far from Russia’s law enforcement bodies, said they knew about Skype eavesdropping tools, therefore they used this server “with great caution.” Their neighbour Yevgeny Chichvarkin, co- founder of mobile-phone retailer OOO Evroset said he did the same. He noted that Skype ensured confidentiality back in 2009, when he used it during police searches in Evroset.