Small step for Microsoft - huge improvement for Chinese users
Skype.com is again redirecting users in China to websites controlled by Chinese companies. This time, however, all user calls, chats and login information are encrypted and being communicated directly to Microsoft via HTTPS. This is a complete about face for Microsoft from the Tom Skype era, when all information was processed by Tom and stored by Tom on servers located in China with absolutely no privacy controls in place.
We praise Microsoft for making this change. We hope this is a harbinger of change to come not just from Microsoft but from all major internet players. It appears that Microsoft is indeed fighting back against censorship in China. We have been very critical of Microsoft and Skype in the past but today we applaud this development.
We still want to ask Microsoft to explain the differences between the Chinese and international versions of Skype. Does the new China version of Skype have more surveillance capabilities than the global version? We would also like the company to reference the specific “Chinese regulations” that they plan on following with their new joint venture partner.
The newly launched joint GMF-Skype website offers a special Chinese version download which was launched in a partnership with Guangming Founder (GMF).
This version is different from the international version of Skype that supports Chinese. The file is hosted by the Chinese joint venture partner in a server located in China. However, unlike its previous joint venture arrangement with Tom, it would appear that Microsoft has taken full control of the China version of Skype. The software is digitally signed by Microsoft, which means Microsoft and Microsoft alone is responsible for the software’s code. The Chinese authorities cannot provide counterfeit software to users in China.
Analysis of the current Chinese version of Skype 18.104.22.168
We’ve analyzed the communications the special Chinese clients make. All communications are outside of China and are located in Singapore, the U.S and Ireland. Tom Skype was notorious for monitoring chat history and uploading user information but it seems that with the current GMF-Skype version, there are no censored keywords.
A breakdown of Skype download urls appears below. The appendix “gmw” refers to the name of Microsoft’s joint venture partner on Skype. This, too, is a special version, numbered “22.214.171.1245”. The China version of Skype for Windows users is hosted on the special GMF-Skype website for China.
|China Mac OS||126.96.36.1995|
|International Mac OS||188.8.131.525|
使用Skype 安全吗: 完全安全。Skype 采用了端对端的加密方式，保证信息的安全性. Skype在信息（语音、即时消息、文件）发送之前进行加密，在接收到的时候进行解密，即使在数据传输过程中需要经过其他节点进行中转，也完全没有可能在中途被窃听。
In the meantime, skype.tom.com changed its page title from “Skype简体中文版官方网站 (Official website of Skype Chinese version)”
to “Skype充值中心 (Skype Refill Center)”. The site does indeed offer pre-paid refill cards for Tom Skype.
The only link Tom took down is the login page for Tom-Skype:
as opposed to:
The Tom Skype web site (skype.tom.com) is, at the time of publishing this story, not redirecting users or offering a link to the new version of Skype which suggests that Tom’s split with Microsoft was not amicable. We strongly suggest that all Tom Skype users immediately delete their current versions and upgrade to the new GMF-Skype. Microsoft should also make an effort to trumpet their newest version of Skype to users based in China.