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article imageSkype update stops it revealing your IP address to the world

By James Walker     Jan 22, 2016 in Technology
An update to the Microsoft-owned Skype messaging software has finally removed a known issue present for over three years. The flaw makes it easy for outsiders to uncover a user's IP address, allowing them to execute DDoS attacks or other hacks.
Every device connected to the Internet has its own IP address, a string of numbers that uniquely identifies the servers and clients communicating with each other online. A hacker that knows a computer's IP address can abuse this information by sending a flood of data to it, effectively preventing it from connecting to the Internet.
It can be compared to sending waves of spam mail to a postal address. Eventually, the sorter will be overwhelmed and will have to turn down any more mail that arrives.
A security flaw present in Skype since at least 2012 allows hackers to easily work out the IP address of an active user. The hackers using the technique mostly target PC gamers, many of whom use Skype to communicate during gaming sessions.
Armed with a player's IP address, the attackers then send waves of data to the device to flood its Internet connection. This gives the attacker a competitive advantage over the target. The victim's computer will end up lagging behind the action in an online game match, providing the attacker with a tactical advantage.
In a blog post this week, Skype announced it is finally ending the annoyance this kind of attack can cause. The latest version of Skype, now released for desktop and mobile devices, hides the user's IP address by default, preventing outsiders from accessing it and abusing the information.
The Skype team said: "Skype is fully committed to delivering as safe and secure of an experience as possible to our customers. We have recently introduced the ability to hide a Skype user’s IP address and we’ve set this as a default status in the latest versions of Skype. Starting with this update to Skype and moving forward, your IP address will be kept hidden from Skype users. This measure will help prevent individuals from obtaining a Skype ID and resolving to an IP address."
Reports of the security issue can be traced back to around 2010, before Microsoft owned Skype. The company acquired the messaging software in 2011 and has since added new features, expanded support for group collaboration and built apps for all the major mobile platforms. One of Skype's most annoying weaknesses for PC gamers has persisted through the years though, finally receiving a patch five years since those first reports.
Skype should update itself automatically and will enable the "Hide IP address" option once restarted. Desktop users can manually install the update by clicking "Check for updates" in the help menu if it hasn't appeared yet. Mobile users should head to their applicable app store.
More about Skype, IP, ip address, Ddos, Attack
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