Can Skype voice chat be used to send secret messages?

Think how cool and glamorous it would be to be a super spy like James Bond, Jason Bourne or Ethan Hunt. You could be traveling the world, ridding it of super villains and meeting beautiful women. It also means getting access to all the cool tech gadgets that no one in the public is supposed to get.

Now there's word that Skype users could, in theory, act out their secret agent fantasies and send secret messages hidden inside regular voice chat calls. New Scientist reports that a research team at the Institute of Telecommunications in Warsaw, Poland, has developed a system called SkypeHide that uses the spaces in between spoken words to transmit data.

As it turns out, when you use Skype and there are pauses between spoken words, there's not an absence of data. When speech is transmitted on Skype, it uses 130-bit long data packets. However, Skype still sends 70-bit long data packets even when no one is speaking.

The Institute of Telecommunications team have created SkypeHide as a way to use those 70-bit packages to send data, which could be text, audio or even video, at a rate of 1 KB per second. Team member Wojciech Mazurczyk states that their SkypeHide system can access the hidden data, saying, "The secret data is indistinguishable from silence-period traffic, so detection of SkypeHide is very difficult."

While SkypeHide has yet to be released, the team plans to show off their system in June at a steganography conference in Montpellier, France. In the meantime, we suspect that lots of Skype users are getting their new "secret decoder ring" messages ready to transmit.

Source: New Scientist | Classified image via Shutterstock

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