Microsoft's latest update to Skype now hides a user's IP address by default. The change is likely to be noticed most by gamers who in the past have been targeted for online harassment and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks via user details found through their Skype accounts.
Skype recently rolled out the ability for users to hide their IP address from others they communicated with using the app, but the latest update now makes that the default option.
In a blog post published Thursday, the Skype team noted that the new change is aimed at "delivering as safe and secure of an experience as possible to our customers ... This measure will help prevent individuals from obtaining a Skype ID and resolving to an IP address."
Skype Resolvers and DDoS
You don't have to look hard or long on Skype's user forums to see that DDoS attacks have been a common complaint, especially among those who use the VoIP service to talk with others during gaming sessions. Up until now, users were often told their best solution would be to create a new Skype account or to use software or hardware changes to obtain a new IP address.
The problem stemmed from a long-recognized security flaw in Skype that enabled anyone with the know-how to trick the app into revealing another user's IP address, essentially showing the person's location in the real world. That flaw gave rise to a large number of so-called "Skype resolver" services that let users find others' Internet addresses simply by entering someone's Skype username.
As IT security writer Brian Krebs noted in a 2013 post on his blog, "Typically, these Skype resolvers are offered in tandem with 'booter' or 'stresser' services, online attack tools-for-hire that can be rented to launch denial-of-service attacks." The resolvers, he added, "work regardless of any privacy settings the target user may have selected within the Skype program's configuration panel."
The emergence of Skype resolver services, in turn, has prompted the development of alternative VoIP services such as Curse Voice.
New Features for Productivity
While the ability to obtain IP addresses from Skype usernames has been a problem mostly for gamers, the application's flaw also created the potential for stalking and hacking business users, Krebs noted in 2013. He cited a statement from Skype in response, acknowledging the flaw that added, "This is an ongoing, industry-wide issue faced by all peer-to-peer software companies."
Since being acquired by Microsoft in 2011, Skype is gradually being remade more in the Redmond, Washington-based company's image. That's reflected in this latest update to Skype.
Skype in recent weeks has also unveiled a number of new tools for users, including group instant messaging, file sharing and group video calls, soon to be offered for mobile users as well. The company this week also launched several new features for users on the Android platform aimed at improving productivity. They include the ability to schedule calls in Outlook from Skype, and, to open documents sent by others with one tap.