Report: Hackers can access Skype users' locations

Report: Hackers can access Skype users' locations

Every day, millions of people and businesses log onto Skype, an internet voice and video chat application, but new research shows that users may be risking the security of their data.

According to a study by an international team of researchers, a data security flaw in Skype allows moderately sophisticated hackers to detect a user's location. Skype boasts more than 500 million users worldwide, and all could be at risk of data breach.

Although Skype officials downplayed the research's validity, experts said hackers could easily find a user's IP address, which could even be used to locate government officials or employees of a large organization.

"These findings have real security implications for the hundreds of millions of people around the world who use VoIP or P2P file-sharing services," said researcher Keith Ross of NYU-Poly, according to TG Daily. "A hacker anywhere in the world could easily track the whereabouts and file-sharing habits of a Skype user - from private citizens to celebrities and politicians - and use the information for purposes of stalking, blackmail or fraud."

The study tracked 10,000 random users over a two-week period, the New York Post reported. Researchers said the security breach may also be an issue for other chat services such as Google Talk and MSN Live.