Why did it take Skype six years to fix one of its biggest problems?


Whether it’s finally launching an instant messaging feature, or replacing Flash with HTML5, companies seem to enjoy taking their sweet time when it comes to adding important features to their products, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Skype’s case is especially bad, because it’s only just now getting around to hiding people’s IP addresses, which has been an issue since 2010. It was never a major security concern, but displaying people’s IP addresses for the whole world to see has caused problems for a lot of users over the years, which is why it’s baffling that it took Skype this long to fix the issue. 

Skype is adding a new default security feature primarily to protect gamers from their overheated rivals. The Microsoft-owned service recently announced it would start hiding users’ IP addresses by default in the latest update to Skype. Previously, a Skype user’s IP address was not hidden, meaning hackers who knew what to look for could easily obtain your IP address and thus target your computer. Online gaming is serious business. So serious that people who lose major online battles or matches can sometimes seek revenge. One easy way to do that is to launch a distributed denial of service attack knocking their victorious rival offline. Before launching a DDoS, however, you need your target’s IP address. That was actually pretty easy if you knew your target’s Skype name. You don’t even need to be a capable programmer as many websites called ‘resolvers’ promised to reveal a Skype user’s IP address. The issue of discovering IP addresses via Skype has been known for several years. Researchers had discovered vulnerabilities allowing hackers to obtain someone’s IP address via Skype as far back as 2010. But it wasn’t until 2012 that reports about obtaining a Skype user’s IP address grabbed public attention.

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