Researchers find privacy flaws in Chatroulette

In tests, most users couldn't tell that they were chatting with a video, not a person

By , IDG News Service |  Security, privacy

Han and his team also believe that it would be easy to listen in on chat conversations by writing a simple computer program that could act as a middleman between Chatroulette conversations, connecting two users and recording what they say. Though Han believes it would be easy to do, his team didn't write the software to conduct this attack. "We did not implement this attack because we thought it was so dangerous," he said.

Chatroulette's Ternovskiy sees things a little differently, however. In an e-mail interview he described the research as "not a big deal."

"I think it's an interesting piece of work, and I am thankful to the people who made it," he said. "However, I think that it would be exaggeration of some sort to look at it too seriously."

"You should be aware -- don't trust strangers. But it shouldn't stop you from entertaining yourself," he added.

Han's team notified Chatroulette of its findings prior to going public, and Ternovskiy said that he would be making some changes to the site "so some things mentioned in the article wouldn't be possible to accomplish."

For example, Chatroulette is now testing a new feature called Localroulette, which connects people from specific cities with one another. "Phishing techniques usually involving tricking people into thinking that you are from particular place and you have particular identity," Ternovskiy said. "This will not exactly work here."

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com

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