Using The Social Capabilities Of Skype To Distribute Malware

Online communication has been the biggest selling point of the internet so far. So many people are able to communicate with both people who are far away and also people who they haven’t seen in years. It has been a great revolution with this type of technology and the social networks are leading the way. That is why you will see on the news all of the time companies like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace in its prime and many others. The social breakthrough on the web has lead to a lot of advances in communication.

But maybe none of these social sites are more advanced than the software that I am about to introduce right now. It is a tool that is already being used by millions of people on the internet but it still does not get the recognition that it deserves. Yes, we are talking about the software that is known as Skype. And even though it’s profile on the public radar is lower than the other social tools that we have talked about, it is just as important.

Using The Social Capabilities Of Skype To Distribute Malware

What is Skype?

This is a pretty interesting question. The reason why it is interesting is because Skype is so many different things to many different people. I guess we will start with the number one reason why people use the Skype software. And that reason is because you are able to use Skype as a phone. Yes, the Skype software allows you to make VOIP phone calls to both people online and also people who are offline. Talking to people online is free but for offline access you pay a small monthly fee. It is a lot cheaper than what the phone company offers.

But using Skype as solely a VOIP client is wasted in this day and age. Not when there is so much that you can do with the software. Skype also allows you to have multi person video phone chats with people. You can talk to your loved ones in another part of the country all through the video phone that Skype provides. You just need to make sure you have a headset and a web cam. Skype also allows you to text message people from around the world as well.

The dangers of Skype

So as you can see, the Skype software allows you to do a lot when it comes to communication over the internet. But just as with any tool that you use on your computer, there is a danger that comes with it as well. As you probably already know, the online bad guys try to use any tool that they know is popular to be able to infiltrate someone’s system. It helps give them a good attack point if they are already familiar with the software and where it is installed on the computer (Windows 8 antivirus anyone?). With Skype, the more popular it has become, the more you see black hat hackers trying to find exploits in it. And they have already found a couple which required for the Skype software to be updated with a security warning.

One of the easiest but most frequent attacks you see when it comes to the Skype software is the notification attacks. Someone has programmed a bot to go through a list of Skype names and send them a notification that has a link attached to it. Some of the notifications are a friend request while others are fake phone calls. Whatever trick they can pull to get you to click on that link they will try. And it works.

Another attack that you will see is the client software being offered on third party sites besides Skype. Some of these third party sites will have Skype software that has been changed. This change will allow the software to either open a backdoor in your computer or it will carry the infection itself. This has happened plenty of times so I suggest that you always download the client from the main home web site.

And the other way that a black hat hacker will try to get you with Skype is through the chat features. They will try to get you to have a conversation with them, gain your trust and then send you a link. Sometimes they will even pretend as if they are girls in trying to con you into clicking the link. This works in part because you feel as if you can trust the other person. So an attack like this may take a few days. Maybe even a week.

Skype is a great software tool and is part of the social revolution that we have had on the internet. You just have to remember to be careful with it just like anything else.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


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