In a recent meeting, Kurt Sauer, Skype’s chief security officer talked about the security features in Skype, and how the company could make its products and services more amenable to corporate IT managers and network security specialists. It’s not quite there yet, but the company is definitely heading in the right direction.
Skype, which is now owned by eBay, has managed to live-up to the early hype and continues to grow from strength to strength, with many millions of people downloading the software worldwide. Today, one can find around five million Skype users online at any given time, with many of them using this powerful technology in work-related scenarios.
Three years ago, Skype offered very little by way of bells and whistles, but today the picture is very different. Available on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Pocket PCs, Skype allows users to make cheap phone calls to regular phone numbers through the SkypeOut service, receive regular phone calls on their computers from family and friends using the SkypeIn service, take calls when they are offline using Skype Voicemail, and send SMS messages with ease from the program’s elegant user interface.
And there’s more: file transfer, instant messaging, group audio conferencing, video conferencing, and Skype for Business – all of these are propelling this clever little program ever closer towards the enterprise desktop. Skype is slowly but surely edging out of the home and into the workplace, often being installed right under the noses of corporate IT managers and network security officers. Unprepared for an application such as this, many IT departments have found themselves backed into a corner, and as a result have vehemently imposed outright bans on this potentially useful application.
However, things might be about to change, as Mr Sauer indicated that a version of Skype designed with enterprise deployment in mind might not be too far away. Corporate network administrators have already been shown how to optimize and tune their networks for Skype use, and now the company is readying a package that can be deployed by using products such as Microsoft System Management Server, and which can also be managed through various desktop administration technologies.
Although Skype works with all leading anti-virus products, many IT managers cite Skype’s file transfer service as one of their great concerns, and yet for those who care to look, this feature can easily be disabled through Windows registry keys, which can also be managed and controlled through Windows policies. Another feature often cited as a potential attack surface is Skype’s application programming interface (API); but here again a simple registry setting can disable this feature.
While Skype is not ready for mass enterprise deployment just yet, with a few more management controls put in place and a more prominent security response team, it could well be. Internet telephony, instant messaging, file exchange, and pervasive presence are all key enablers for collaborative working; it would appear that millions of others think so too.
Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)