"Look, I love Skype, it's a wonderful tool," says Matt McKinley, U.S. director of product management at StoneSoft. But in an enterprise setting, Skype raises a multitude of concerns, he notes. It's not only "very, very hard to block," but the protocols used in Skype are "proprietary and not subject to peer review." There has been a huge amount of mystery about what Skype, which has been a tightly kept secret by its European software developers, at its core really is. That has led to suspicion and speculation about Skype over the years from many quarters.
"There are open questions about what Skype is capable of doing or not," says McKinley. These range from whether Skype has a backdoor for eavesdropping, an idea bolstered three years ago by reports out of Europe that claimed unnamed Austrian officials were listening in on Skype conversations. (But most of the time, governments around the world are heard to complain that Skype is stymieing their surveillance efforts, as last month the Russian security service FSB did by asking that Skype -- as well as Gmail and Hotmail -- be banned from Russia.)
McKinley said corporate customers and the industry would benefit if Skype became more open and standardized, which would help give security vendors and enterprise customers a better chance at assuring it's used appropriately. Skype itself has had security issues, such as a need for patching, as any other application might.
Microsoft isn't divulging its full plans for Skype, but earlier this week Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Skype, which has 170 million users, will be tightly integrated into Office, Xbox and Windows Phone in the future, and will continue to be offered to non-Microsoft devices and platforms. He said he expected to see more business users connecting via Skype calls in the future.
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