Friday, September 08, 2006

Security: Skyping more privately

Computer Coaching for Seniors, Ottawa Canada.

The stormy night would not let Charlie sleep. He decided to turn on computer #1 (in total he had 5) and check out how the Canadian dollar compared with the other currencies. As his mouse pointer hovered over his Canadian Exchange Rate bookmark, thunder roared outside his window and a chat window from Skype popped up.

(Chat window means you are communicating through typing and not through voice or talking like on a phone)

"Hi, this is Cindy, Charlie Keiko."

"Cindy, who is this Cindy?" Charlie thought.

He decided to ignore the intrusion, but again the Skype chat window popped up.

"Hey Charlie... why won't you talk to me? I am your long lost cousin Cindy Keiko. We should have a family reunion. I just moved to Ottawa. If you give me your address and phone number, I'll give you a call."

"I do have some relatives on the west coast that I haven't talked to in years. Could this Cindy be related to them?" thought Charlie.


A lot of the information that "Cindy" got about Charlie was from his Skype profile. Charlie signed up for his Skype account using his first name, last name and city. Therefore, there is a big chance that Cindy may not be his long lost cousin.

Although Skype is a wonderful way to communicate, you still need to be cautious as to how much information you share. Here are some ways to Skype more securely:

  1. Try creating a Skype userid that gives no information about you personally. For example, Charlie should create an account like 123Chucky rather than 123CharlieKeiko.

    You can let your friends and family know about your Skype userid through e-mail or by phone.

  2. When you sign up with a Skype account, give as little information as possible. Try not to supply your first name or last name or even the city and country.

    If you have entered in that information, you can remove it by going to "file/edit my profile" and change it there.

  3. You can set the privacy option on Skype to get only calls or chat from people on your contact list.

    Go to "Tools/Options" and select "Privacy" on the side panel. Check mark "Allow calls from my contact" and check mark "Allow chats from my contacts".

    You can also block people from calling by adding them to your blocked list ("Contacts/Advanced/Managed Blocked User".

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