Skype is a software program that can be used for video calling, instant messaging, file sharing, and screen sharing for free. There are also plans that allow users to pay for phone calling plans through Skype. The program has compatible downloads for both Windows and Mac operating systems. Some of the newer models of televisions are Skype-ready. Sounds great, right? But is it really secure?
Every day, people use Skype to call loved ones to discuss personal things; talk over financial concerns; send information that is private; and so much more. We expect Skype to have our backs. We expect Skype to make sure our conversations, messages, and files are secure. And Skype does too.
Skype and Identity Theft
It seems like there are news stories every day about people getting their identities stolen and the subsequent problems they have dealing with the aftermath. Skype has several ways that they use to protect your identity. Your individual login information is sent over SSL when you sign in. SSL is technology used by financial institutions to encrypt information. It makes sure your information is safe from malware. Skype also uses digital certificates to verify the identity of each member. This ensures that someone cannot impersonate you.
Encryption is one way the Skype protects your information from hackers or criminals. It is basically a mathematical process that changes the information so it is unreadable as it travels to the intended recipient. Once the information arrives at its destination, decryption changes it back. While it is now a complicated process, encryption has been around for thousands of years in various forms to protect information from being interpreted by the wrong person.
When we go to cash a check, the cashier will generally ask for some kind credentials – a driver’s license or student ID – to make sure we are who we say we are. Digital certificates are electronic credentials. They must identify the account, be issued by an authority – in this case Skype, and be difficult to forge. Each Skype user’s digital credential is completely unique to them. They are used during sign in to verify identities. This is why it is crucial to keep Skype names and passwords confidential. This protection makes sure that you are not communicating with an imposter when you believe you are having a conversation with a friend or business associate.
What You Can Do
Skype has all sorts of safety features in place, but some of the security falls on the user. There are a few ways you can help keep yourself safe on Skype:
- Choose a secure password by mixing letters, numbers, and characters; including random uppercase letters; using a sentence instead of a word; using a unique password for every website you use; changing your password every six months or so.
- Use an antivirus program to protect your computer
- Update your operating system with the latest security updates and use a firewall
- Keep Skype up-to-date with the latest version
- Be careful who you authorize to view your profile
- Set up your profile so it is safe to be viewed by the public without giving away details that are private
- Protect yourself from fraud by only purchasing Skype items from the Skype website – they will NEVER send emails requesting credit card details
- Be aware of phishing attempts – fraudulent emails claiming to be from Skype should not be acted upon. Instead, login to Skype and check your account for information.
Between Skype’s state-of-the-art technology and your own personal safety measures, you can communicate with anyone through Skype and be confident that your conversations are private and secure.