Scrap Skype, warns analyst

In one of its regular research notes, Canadian analyst firm Info-Tech Research Group is calling on businesses to impose an outright ban of Skype, the undisputed leader in Voice over IP (VoIP).

In one of its regular research notes, Canadian analyst firm Info-Tech Research Group is calling on businesses to impose an outright ban of Skype, the undisputed leader in Voice over IP (VoIP).

In May this year, Skype CEO and co-founder Niklas Zennström told Computer Weekly that Skype would introduce more enterprise-oriented services and be more relevant to enterprises. Skype has made good on this promise and has become a hit with business users.

Of the 50 million-plus current Skype users worldwide, 17 million use it for business purposes, according to Info-Tech Research Group. The recent acquisition of Skype by eBay is likely to swell these numbers even faster.

Yet Info-Tech says that Skype offers weak defences against hackers and bypasses corporate firewalls. As Skype is 'undetectable, untraceable and unauditable', the product will also threaten companies' ability to satisfy compliance regulations, as well as opening up them up to a legal quagmire notes Info-Tech.

"The bottom line is that even a mediocre hacker could take advantage of a Skype vulnerability," says Info-Tech senior research analyst Ross Armstrong. "If you are going to use Skype within the enterprise, manage it as you would any other IT service: with policy and diligence."

Another potential problem-highlighted by UK analyst Butler Group-comes from 'super nodes', which occur when lots of Skype users need a route onto the wider internet from behind the firewall. This could mean that a machine and its network segment could become deluged with Skype traffic.

To combat these problems, you and your fellow IT directors must educate business users and set policies on acceptable usage in the same way as was done for instant messaging.

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