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SANS Institute InfoSec Reading Room
This paper is from the SANS Institute Reading Room site. Reposting is not permitted without express written permission.

Skype: A Practical Security Analysis
The purpose of this paper is to suggest best practices and recommendations when running Skype. Although Skype is available for myriad different hardwareplatforms, this document will focus on the Mac, Windows, and Linux environments.

Copyright SANS Institute Author Retains Full Rights

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GSEC Gold Certification

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Bert Hayes

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Adviser: Dominicus Adriyanto

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Author: Bert Hayes,bhayes@infosec.utexas.edu

Accepted: October 9 2008

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Skype: A Practical Security Analysis

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2. Definitions....................................................... 4 3. Major Points...................................................... 5

4.Observations...................................................... 9

2. Skype’s Network Behavior......................................11 5. Practical Advice and Real World Recommendations...................21
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6. Conclusions.......................................................23 7. Links and Additional Information..................................24 8. AppendixA: A Brief History of Skype’s Security Vulnerabilities..25 9. Appendix B: Registry and Config Settings for Skype on Windows.... 28 10. References .....................................................31

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1. Network Utilization............................................ 9

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Author retainsfull rights.

1. Introduction...................................................... 3

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Table of Contents

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Skype: A Practical Security Analysis

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Skype: A Practical Security Analysis

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Skype is communications software that allows users to communicate with each other in

(Peer to Peer) network rather than routing all communications packets through a central server. Skype is designed to work out of the box on modern networks, and has no problems working behind a NAT (Network AddressTranslation) device or other firewalls. Because of its decentralized architecture, Skype makes extensive use of strong encryption, making casual

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combination of Skype's encryption and its binary only, closed-source nature make it a black box, or complete unknown that has no place being on a well-maintained network. While these are allvalid concerns, they should be considered in the context of local network policies

well-managed environment can mitigate these risks.

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and weighed against the benefits that Skype can provide. In many cases running Skype in a

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inherent ability to traverse firewalls is a security risk. And some administrators feel the

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use has shown that itcan be a bandwidth hog. Other administrators fear that Skype's

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Many network and systems administrators take a dim view of Skype because historical

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eavesdropping or impersonation all but impossible.

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among other IM (Instant Messaging) applications in that Skype runs over a decentralized P2P

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real time using VOIP (Voice Over IP), video chat,...
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