The latest version of Microsoft’s Skype program hides the user’s IP address. The IP (= internet protocol) address has the potential to reveal a user’s location as well as the identity of their internet service provider which, in turn, can be used to retrieve additional personal identifiers. While the improvement in privacy is helpful for all users, the update is largely directed at gamers who utilize the messenger service. 

Previous versions of Skype didn’t directly reveal the user’s IP address but made it possible for other users to obtain this information based on the user’s Skype ID. The ability to deduce a user’s IP address and other identifying information from Skype was announced by security researchers in 2010. In subsequent years, this vulnerability was exploited and several online services emerged to help users track and harass other Skype users. As Brian Krebs writes, “Typically, these Skype resolvers are offered in tandem with “booter” or “stresser” services, online attack tools-for-hire than can be rented to launch denial-of-service attacks (most often against online gamers). The idea being that if you want to knock someone offline but you don’t know their Internet address, you can simply search on Skype.” In this case, a denial of service (DDoS) attack is an attempt to render a user’s internect connection innnefective by overwhelming his network with large amounts of web traffic. A DDoS attack utilizes numerous computers to provide a large volume of superfluous traffic, either slowing down or forcing the target offline. 

Skype’s official blog introduced the update as part of their commitment “to delivering as safe and secure of an experience as possible to our customers.” The new release follows a previous beta release in 2013 designed to protect users’ IP information which failed to do so. The new update is available on both Desktop computers and Android devices, with an iOS version coming soon. To ensure you are running the latest version of Skype, open the program and go to Help > Check for Updates.

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