Tibetan poet, writer and blogger Woeser has reported on both her Twitter page and her blog that her two Skype IDs have been hacked.
Yesterday, May 28, 2010, Woeser tweeted the following:
Both my Skype IDs (boluoma+esse.wei777) have been hacked. Friends who need to contact me please use voice, don’t trust chat or accept files.
Today on her blog, Woeser explains that not only have hackers been impersonating Tibetans to contact her on Skype and try to send her infected files, her Skype has also been contacting her friends to send them infected files.
Below is a screenshot of a hacker impersonating “Thubten (Sam) Samdup” trying to send her file:
In her blogpost, Woeser writes that she was out all day and not online on May 28, 2010. However, her Skype ID was contacting her friends. Below is a translation of a Skype chat between a hacker impersonating Woeser using her Skype ID “boluoma” and trying to send one of her contacts an infected file:
[5/28/10 4:30:57 PM] boluoma: hello
[5/28/10 4:32:00 PM] xxx: Hi Woeser, how are you?
[5/28/10 4:32:53 PM] boluoma: fine
[5/28/10 4:33:14 PM] boluoma / posted “t625146j fdp.scr”
[5/28/10 4:33:24 PM] boluoma: take a look at this article
[5/28/10 4:34:55 PM] xxx: ok
[5/28/10 4:36:32 PM] boluoma / posted “t625146j fdp.scr”
[5/28/10 4:37:19 PM] boluoma: try to accept again
[5/28/10 4:37:27 PM] xxx: am downloading
[5/28/10 6:35:23 PM] xxx: thank you
[5/28/10 6:51:27 PM] xxx: didn’t go through again. Can you send to my email?
[5/28/10 6:51:44 PM] boluoma: ok
[5/28/10 6:51:55 PM] xxx: haha, are you there?
[5/28/10 6:52:12 PM] xxx: don’t know why, there was a problem both times.
[5/28/10 6:52:28 PM] xxx: I’m going out. I’ll look when I get back. Thanks!
[5/28/10 6:52:32 PM] boluoma / posted “t625146j fdp.scr”
[5/28/10 6:52:54 PM] xxx: Is this the same file?
[5/28/10 6:53:03 PM] boluoma: Yes
[5/28/10 6:53:10 PM] boluoma: I’ve written an article
[5/28/10 6:53:25 PM] xxx: Strange. Both times before I had to wait 15 minutes. Now it’s really fast.
[5/28/10 6:53:51 PM] boluoma: My connection just now wasn’t very stable
[5/28/10 6:55:03 PM] xxx: Can’t open it!
[5/28/10 6:55:24 PM] boluoma: Aren’t you using Windows?
[5/28/10 6:55:25 PM] boluoma: xp
[5/28/10 6:56:57 PM] xxx: I’m on a Mac but I should be able to open it. Hang on a minute. I’ll try again.
[5/28/10 6:58:09 PM] boluoma: I sent the wrong file
[5/28/10 6:58:11 PM] boluoma /posted “t625146.pdf”
[5/28/10 6:58:17 PM] boluoma: It’s this one
[5/28/10 6:58:31 PM] boluoma: OK, I’m going to cook now
[5/28/10 6:59:30 PM] xxx: ok.
In a curious coincidence, Woeser notes that it has been exactly two years to the day since she wrote an open letter to the company Skype. In 2008, Woeser came under cyber attack and her Skype ID “degewa” was hacked as was her blog. Read a Reuters article about that incident here. In 2008, Skype responded quickly by shutting down her “degewa” ID.
Below is a translation of the open letter that she wrote to Skype on May 29, 2008:
Dear Skype Company:
I am Woeser, the original user of the Skype ID “degewa”. The good news that your company has quickly blocked the Skype ID “degewa” eased my very anxious mood. Because I am very worried that the hacker who stole my Skype ID. would deceive 171 contacts of mine in my name (As there is no other ways to contact many of my contacts, I am not able to notify them), which will result in their falling into the trap that they would be punished because of expressing their opinions. For this reason, I am deeply grateful to your company and would like to express my sincere respect for you all.
This incident has made me worry that even Skype, which is considered reliable, is not as safe as we think. Although I know that the problem may be more due to my own lack of technical capacity, which resulted in my Skype password and the list of my contacts being stolen, this matter is a reminder to us all. As the incident may have had serious consequences (fortunately nothing has happened so far), should Skype think about ways to prevent such incidents from happening? After all, for ordinary users, it is not possible for them to have the ability to deal with hackers, let alone the net police. Only companies with professional capacity will be able to tackle these problems.
I can at least make a suggestion to you: there is a problem with the current Skype setting as one can login in simultaneously on two computers with the same user ID. Computer B is able to see all the activities of the same user on computer A, but there is no alert or any reaction from computer A. One can imagine that if one’s Skype account and password have been stolen without the knowledge of the user, then due to his or her trust of the confidentiality features of Skype, the user will talk or chat without any preventative measures. Consequently, the other computer will record all activities, whether they are major or minor, they will be proof of crime. In China, the consequence can be very dangerous. I am a layman, so I do not know whether it is possible to change settings on Skype to prevent such incident from happening. Also to change the setting so that only one computer can be logged in with the user ID at one time, or if there is another computer using the same user ID, is it possible for Skype to alert the user? If there had been, a system would have been alerted and I would have responded appropriately.
People living in a free society may not understand my cautiousness in this matter. However, the reason Skype has become many people’s preferred means of communication in China and Tibet is due to the user’s trust of its safety features. It can be said that they have entrusted their personal safety to such a trust in Skype. Freedom from fear should be the basic freedom enjoyed by all human beings but at present, it is regrettable that we do not have such freedom. In a society when people are facing the threat of fear all the time, new technology which guarantees one’s safety has become a comfort for one to rely on.
May 29, 2008