The biggest fear of most internet users is that their computer will/can be invaded by a dreaded computer virus. Virtual viruses that can spy on their every move and destroy their files without any warning.
Although this is very scary, now hackers and law enforcement have a new weapon. It consists of a virus that can eavesdrop on all voice conversation between computers instead of the usual phone line.
The new “Trojan horse” virus records Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls. VoIP calls refer to internet calls, such as those made by the popular Skype service either between two computers or a computer and a phone.
With over 450 million Skype users, it is said that it is unlikely that the virus will target the masses. As it is better suited to espionage, law enforcements in countries such as the US and in Australia would need a court order to tap into an individual’s Skype calls. It is believed however that these strict laws may be more relaxed in other parts of the world.
The virus, which the security firm Symantec calls the first “wiretap Trojan,” does not target a particular vulnerability in Skype. It instead invades parts of the Windows operating system that handle the audio processing in the calls. The virus intercepts all the audio data coming from Skype before being encrypted by the software. The audio gets saved as MP3 files and can be sent to computers controlled by the criminals.
Kevin Haley, director of Symantec Security Response. “It’s an espionage tool. That’s its clear purpose. It’s not practical for any type of broad-based attacks.”