‘Rare’ Skype bug sends instant messages to unintended recipients

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It’s official: No form of communication over the Internet is safe. Skype has just acknowledged that a bug in its VoIP software is accidentally diverting your instant message conversations to random contacts — even those you never invited to the conversation. 

According to a customer support thread found by Engadget, users are experiencing a lot of text message sender-recipient mismatch; Text messages meant for one friend ended up at another even though those two are not in each other’s contact lists. Alternatively, users are also receiving messages between other random contacts, ending up caught in the middle. These mismatched messages result anywhere between a few lines to a whole portion of the conversation.

“We are aware that in rare circumstances IM’s between two contacts could be sent to an unintended third contact,” Skype announced this morning. “We are rolling out a fix for this issue in the next few days and will notify our users to download an updated version of Skype.”

Out of the approximately 250 million Skype users, only several have reported it through the customer service threads. Messages received by an unintended third party is serious privacy breach that could get Skype in big trouble if the bug isn’t fixed soon. While this is unconfirmed, the bug appears to be related to a June 2012 update so older versions should still theoretically be secure. We recommend waiting to update your Skype version until the company releases one that addresses the issue.

If you were sending any private conversations via Skype in these past few weeks, you might want to think twice about what confidential information could have leaked to unintended recipients or ask around if your friends received anything weird. Check conversation history to make sure nothing went to random contacts that weren’t supposed to. Microsoft, which owns Skype, is calling the bug “rare” so in the mean time, if you must send somewhat private messages over the Web, it is probably best to avoid Skype until the update rolls out or stick to video calls. We wouldn’t recommend recording those cam chats either until Skype gets its software together!

Update: Skype has informed us that an update to fix the IM bug has been released. The affected versions are Skype 5.10 for Windows, Skype 5.8 for Mac, Skype 4.0 for Linux, and Skype 1.2 for Windows Phone.