Remember that time your Internet crashed because someone with a grudge decided to send thousands of packets at your connection every second? Many public figures and companies do.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are common in the Internet world. And unfortunately, it’s easy to purchase a botnet subscription—a network of malicious computers that are infected and controlled by one single user—to flood someone else’s connection.
Obtaining an IP address should be difficult, yet for the past few years users of Skype have been vulnerable—a user’s IP can be fetched just with his or her Skype name. According to the company, its newest update solves this issue, hiding users’ IP addresses by default without extra precautions.
“Starting with this update to Skype and moving forward, your IP address will be kept hidden from Skype users,” Skype said in a blog post on Thursday. “This measure will help prevent individuals from obtaining a Skype ID and resolving to an IP address.”
The prior solution to the problem was running an entire connection through a virtual private network (VPN) or virtual private server (VPS). This would lower the connection speed due to external routing, but it would hide the user’s location from tracers and IP address from resolvers. But most VPN or VPS softwares or servers usually cost a monthly or yearly fee.
This feature should please many gamers and streamers. IP tracing has resulted in not only angry viewers taking down Twitch streams and competitive games, but also swatting—calling the local police with a distress call—from IP traces by address.
With the move, Skype resolves its part in a long-standing problem.
Photo via Torkild Retvedt/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0) | Remix by Jacob Wolf