Today, hackers and potentially law enforcement have a new weapon. A virus that can eavesdrop on voice conversation between computers instead of the regular phone line. And who said Big Brother wasn’t coming?!
The new “Trojan horse” virus can record all Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls. VoIP calls refer to internet calls, such as those made by the popular Skype service. Skype allows users to make calls either between two computers or between a computer and a phone line.
Skype currently has over 450 million users. It is reassuring for all these users to hear that it is unlikely that the virus will target the masses. It is said that as it is suited to espionage, law enforcements will need a court order to tap into an individual’s Skype calls. It is believed however that these strict laws may be more relaxed in other parts of the world.
The virus, which is referred to as the first “wiretap Trojan” by the security firm Symantec does not target a particular vulnerability in Skype. Instead, it hooks into parts of the Windows operating system that handle audio processing. It then intercepts all the audio data coming from Skype before it’s encrypted by the software. The audio gets saved as MP3 files and can be sent to computers controlled by the criminals.
Kevin Haley, director of Symantec Security Response. “It’s an espionage tool. That’s its clear purpose. It’s not practical for any type of broad-based attacks.”