Skype is adding a new default security feature primarily to protect gamers from their overheated rivals. The Microsoft-owned service recently announced it would start hiding users’ IP addresses by default in the latest update to Skype. Previously, a Skype user’s IP address was not hidden, meaning hackers who knew what to look for could easily obtain your IP address and thus target your computer.
Why this matters: Online gaming is serious business. So serious that people who lose major online battles or matches can sometimes seek revenge. One easy way to do that is to launch a distributed denial of service attack knocking their victorious rival offline. Before launching a DDoS, however, you need your target’s IP address. That was actually pretty easy if you knew your target’s Skype name. You don’t even need to be a capable programmer as many websites called ‘resolvers’ promised to reveal a Skype user’s IP address.
A long-standing issue
The issue of discovering IP addresses via Skype has been known for several years. Researchers had discovered vulnerabilities allowing hackers to obtain someone’s IP address via Skype as far back as 2010. But it wasn’t until 2012 that reports about obtaining a Skype user’s IP address grabbed public attention.
To ensure Skype is hiding your IP address by default make sure you are using the latest version of Skype for desktop and mobile, which you can download directly from Skype. On the desktop, you can go to Help > Check for Updates to see if an update is available. Mobile users can download updates from their respective app stores.