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Microsoft's Skype Is Most Used Messaging Service For Cyber Criminals, Study Finds ( 57

chicksdaddy quotes a report from The Security Ledger: Cyber criminals lurk in the dark recesses of the internet, striking at random and then disappearing into the virtual ether. But when they want to talk shop with their colleagues, they turn to Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft and its Skype communications tools, according to an analysis by the firm Flashpoint. Mentions of different platforms were used as a proxy for gauging interest in and use of these messaging services. Flashpoint analysts looked, especially, for invitations to continue conversation outside of cyber criminal marketplaces, like references to ICQ accounts or other platforms. The survey results show that, out of a population of around 80 instant messenger platforms and protocols, a short list of just five platforms accounts for between 80% and 90% of all mentions within the cyber underground. Of those, Microsoft's Skype was the chat king. It ranked among the top five platforms across all language groups. That, despite the platform's lack of end-to-end encryption or forward secrecy features and evidence, courtesy of NSA hacker Edward Snowden, that U.S. spies may have snooped on Skype video calls in recent years, The Security Ledger reports. The conclusion: while security is a priority amongst thieves, it isn't the sole concern that cyber criminals and their associates have. In fact, sophisticated hacking communities like those in Russia to continue to rely on legacy platforms like ICQ when provably more secure alternatives exist. The reason? Business. "These cyber criminals have a lot of different options that they're juggling and a lot of factors that weigh on their options," said Leroy Terrelonge III, the Director of Middle East and Africa Research at Flashpoint. "We might suspect that cyber criminals use the most secure means of communication all the time, that's not what our research showed."
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Microsoft's Skype Is Most Used Messaging Service For Cyber Criminals, Study Finds

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  • Microsoft's fault (Score:5, Insightful)

    by computational super ( 740265 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @05:10PM (#54265979)
    That never happened before Microsoft bought it.
  • ....I thought it was IRC. My whole life is a lie
    • And all this time I thought it was IRC. My whole life is a lie

      The article mentions a top five, then doesn't actually enumerate the top five. Piss poor reporting. IRC is probably in there, though it is never once mentioned in the article.

      This is why we don't read the damn articles. They're useless.

  • I guess I don't really see the significance here.
  • Did it occur to the surveyors that people might use the term generically for any sort of voice / face based communication. Just like people talk about "googling" instead of searching for something - or say "the wifi" when they mean "the internet"?
    • Or maybe all those references to Skype were to simply say "Don't use Skype." or "Using Skype will get you caught."

      Now, to throw off researches pointed at Slashdot: AIM, AIM, AIM, AIM AOL Instant Messenger, AIM AOL Instant Massanger, MSN Messenger, AIMI!!LOL!!11

      • MSN messenger is actually dead. AIM might be too, I'm not sure. MSN users in the United States were actually migrated to Skype. You might still be able to connect to some server somewhere, but Microsoft hasn't published a client for MSN in many years. 2009, I think.
      • pretty much exactly my thought.

        skype gets mentioned a lot. either for using it to hack a victims computer or to warn people their conversations go straight to the google/NSA processing centers.

        But never seen referals to carry a converstion on there.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Funny I thought the most used communication method for cyber criminals ('guilty of crime' []) was shouting to each other from between the bars of their cells. Now when it comes to amateurs and script kiddies, yeah, the use the easiest and most accessible method, what ever is the most popular communications fad at that time.

      When it comes to the actually adept cyber criminals there preferred communication method is, well, how the fuck would I know, I am not a cyber criminal. If

  • Study also Finds

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @06:13PM (#54266337)

    Is it just me or do criminals use the same tools as most other people? I'm not talking about people who know what's what, I just mean people.

    • 100% of criminals carry out their work by oxygenating their blood using a commonly available gas. We should ban oxygen and that would prevent criminals from performing their work.

  • anyone heard of “wire” an app by the skype inventor appwhich encrypts conversations []
  • In other news, Los Angeles streets are the streets that Los Angeles criminals prefer to drive on.

  • Makes sense (Score:2, Informative)

    After all, it is owned by an organization that has been found guilty of criminal behavior in a court of law.
    • After all, it is owned by an organization that has been found guilty of criminal behavior in a court of law.


      • by sconeu ( 64226 )

        Actually, MS *WAS* found guilty in the anti-trust suit. The penalty phase was overturned.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That they know of.

  • I also suspect that given how the NSA is soley focused on American national security, that if you're not doing anything to endanger that, the NSA isn't interested in you. And most crimes don't effect American national security.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... Most-Used Messaging Service For Cyber-Criminals ...

    Next; the four-door car is the most-used vehicle for thieves. News at eleven.

    I imagine Skype has a lot of hangers-on because everyone else is using it. This is just a consequence of the winner-takes-all rules for cyber-space.

  • That's not a nice way to accuse my little sister of doing something weird on skype. I'm sure she's a nice person. I mean every times I get a ransom ware popup, she kindly told me to pay in full.

    I do wonder where she got her car though...

  • by Jezral ( 449476 ) <> on Thursday April 20, 2017 @03:11AM (#54267979) Homepage

    Skype used to be end-to-end encrypted and it caused police a lot of problems. Maybe criminal groups are just slow to move to a new service since everyone got established on Skype when it was secure, and the removal of encryption isn't exactly something Microsoft has put in a press release.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ban skype and all platforms it runs on, just like banning laptops and water bottles on planes.

  • Seriously though, only a millenial would be that dumb. This same demographic probably meets people on Facebook and texts with WhatsApp too. Do humans have so little problems anymore that rather than being a fearless young person, they choose not to care about privacy instead? That's my theory anyway.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @06:18AM (#54268371) Journal
    Skype was popular among people who wanted to save international calling rates, who were willing to put up with bad quality to save money. This company would never have made money. The moment they charge anything more than 5$ a year, its subscribers would flee to other services. There is no real switching costs and all its users and cheapstakes. Selling it as a business solution where even the rake rate of international calls (like 2$ per minute) is a small fraction of the hourly rate of the people on the conference call is just plain dumb.

    With unlimited voice and text in cell phones for domestic calls and dirt cheap land lines, it boggles my mind our company decided to "save" costs by moving to skype. Our company had been using webex with reasonable levels of robustness, reliability and quality for quite some time. Then some ex Microsoft C?O showed up and suddenly they decided to "cut costs" by moving from Webex to Skype for all our teleconferencing needs.

    There are so many problems, even people who swear by Microsoft and are fans of that company are put off by it. Randomly drops calls, suddenly drops the microphone, can not find the microphone ... Even the very first "intro to skype" was a disaster, it died half way through... We are falling back to the free Google hangouts,.

  • That still exists?
  • Pretty sure it's IRC :D
  • Last time I used it was in 1997. It's still around? And in use?? By Russians???
    • You're surprised? Geez, I thought everyone knew that users 36915037, 2678435, and 6 were still using ICQ!
      • I overslept this morning and am way too foggy to think of a response even a fraction as funny as yours. So instead I'll say this - that was f'ing hilarious!!

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