|Volume 5 Issue 2||February 2011|
|In This Issue|
|My computer could get infected through Skype?|
|Skype is a great system for talking to other people over the internet, but it's got a security flaw. Here's my advice on how to fix it.|
|My computer could get infected through Skype?
Three different clients called me in a panic this past month. Each described a message that popped up on their screens saying "your computer is infected, click on this web site to remove it." At first I thought it was "rogue security software" that had already infected their computers (see "My computer is infected? Or is this a scam?" http://kadansky.com/files/newsletters/2010/2010_11_30.html), but when I took a closer look, they all turned out to be something else--instant messages that came in through Skype from complete strangers that were trying to trick them into downloading an infection.
What is Skype?
Skype is an amazing online service. Pronounced as a single syllable and rhyming with "hype," it gives you free software (which runs on Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and other platforms) that you can use to:
The security problem
When you install the Skype software, by default it permits anyone who has your "Skype Name" (your username on the Skype system) to contact you through your computer. Unfortunately, thieves are exploiting this "open door" in the following way:
To defeat this mechanism, all you have to do is strengthen your Skype Privacy settings:
Additional ways to protect yourself
As of this writing, I have seen this mechanism occur on a number of clients' computers, some of which were Macintoshes. As it happens, the software those particular malicious web sites tried to download was designed to infect Windows computers, so those infection attempts were alarming but unsuccessful, but Macintosh users should still follow the advice I've outlined above. Blocking potential thieves is always a good idea, and it's possible, even likely, that a future thief may develop an infection for Macintosh. An infection targeting Windows machines can also infect a Windows emulator running on a Mac, such as Virtual Windows or Parallels.
Where to go from here
How to contact me:
phone: (617) 484-6657
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I love helping people learn how to use their computers better! Like a "computer driving instructor," I work 1-on-1 with small business owners and individuals to help them find a more productive and successful relationship with their computers and other high-tech gadgets.