Are my Skype calls recorded?

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Is Skype really not recording my private video calls on their servers anywhere on the internet or on a hard copy?

I think it’s extremely unlikely that your Skype calls are recorded … at least by Skype. I’ll dive into a number of reasons I believe that to be the case.

However, there’s another, potentially more dangerous, scenario that a lot of people overlook. Unfortunately, many are paying a very steep price for that.

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Skype calls recorded by Skype: unlikely

I don’t believe Skype (which is now owned by Microsoft) is recording your calls. But theoretically, it would be possible.

Encryption in Skype remains murky. On one hand, Microsoft is pretty clear that instant messaging traffic (text) is sent to its servers as well as the recipient.1 If there’s a Skype-to-Skype connection, it may be encrypted end-to-end, but messages sent to the Skype servers are encrypted only en route, and arrive there unencrypted.

On the other hand, there is no clear statement on audio and video Skype calls. It could be end-to-end encryption, but there are indications2 that, particularly when routed through the Skype servers, the conversation could be visible or audible in unencrypted form.

Skype Encryption

On top of that, there’s really no reliable way to tell what kind of connection you have, or even if you do have a Skype-to-Skype connection, that the information still isn’t being mirrored to Skype’s servers somehow.

So, while we would like to rely on encryption as a clear indication that there are no Skype calls recorded (at least by Skype), that’s not a conclusion we can make. The technology is potentially recordable by the Skype servers. It’s not confirmed, but we have to assume that it is possible.

We're Watching You!Pragmatism rears its ugly head

The fact is, wholesale recording of Skype audio or video calls is simply unfeasible.

Given the amount of data being transferred in an audio call (and even more in a video call), the amount of storage Skype would require to record everything would be enormous. So enormous that in my opinion, wholesale recording of all Skype traffic is quite impractical.

Not to mention that it would be a public relations nightmare if discovered.

So the question then becomes, since they probably don’t record everything, why would they record your conversation?

You and I just aren’t that interesting

In this regard, I point to what I believe boils down to many people’s over-inflated sense of self-importance (and even occasional paranoia).

You and I just aren’t worth the effort. No one cares about your Skype calls or video. Period. They have much better things to do than listen to your mundane conversations.

However…

What if you are really are “interesting”, by someone’s definition? It’s possible – perhaps even likely – that government agencies have access, under certain conditions, to your Skype conversations.

If that’s you, my advice is very simple: don’t use Skype. I don’t have a specific alternative for you, but I expect that several will be recommended by commenters.

Skype calls recorded by someone else: very possible

Here’s a scarier scenario:

  • A gentleman is approached by a woman, online.
  • They establish some semblance of a “relationship”.
  • Part of that relationship involves using video chat.
  • Eventually enough trust is built, and the gentleman is convinced to perform salacious acts for his girlfriend on camera.
  • Unbeknownst to him, his online “girlfriend” is no friend at all; she, or her handlers, have recorded the conversation.
  • They then extort money, threatening to release the video publicly if he doesn’t pay ransom.

I want to be very clear about this: there is no technology that can prevent this.

The person at the other end of your conversation – be it video, audio, instant messaging or email – can record it all, and there’s nothing you can do about it. If they can see it, they can record it.

From what I’ve seen, this type of extortion, which is not limited to Skype at all, is on the rise.

Prevention is as simple as it is low tech: don’t say or do anything on camera (or anywhere online) that you wouldn’t want your mother – or the world – to find out.

Podcast audio

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Footnotes & references

1: Skype FAQ: Does Skype use encryption?
2: Mostly allegations within the NSA / Snowden information expose.

60 comments on “Are my Skype calls recorded?”

  1. I’m not a lawyer, and this might not actually be the case, but I would imagine that Skype recording your conversations would be a violation of Federal wiretap laws, so I would assume they would avoid recording your calls like the plague. From what I understand, Skype is much more secure than a normal phone call because of their end to end encryption.

  2. User Information is not the same as videos. User information is stored, so govt can pull that information with warrant – but videos, if not stored would not be able to be pulled – warrant or not.

  3. Slashdot.org recently ran an item about the Russian FSB performing warrantless taps on Skype calls. The item references a story in Barents Observer which references a story in the Russian publication Vedomosti.

    The Slashdot item is at

    http://tech.slashdot.org/story/13/03/15/1241229/russian-fsb-can-reportedly-tap-skype-calls

    and contains links to the other publications. (Reader comments may, or may not, help clarify the issues.)

    Apparently it is possible to intercept and decrypt Skype calls, as well as identify the Skype caller.

  4. The only thing that is somewhat related is that in group conversations, Skype uses servers to aggregate content in order to ensure messages and video are delivered correctly. However, just because it goes through their servers doesn’t mean that it is recorded. As Leo says, that would be impractical and basically pointless. The only time a company like Skype would record anything is if they received a court order for some reason, or if they had a ‘rogue employee’ etc.

  5. would a v p n help prevent this? I run a vpnservice when getting media content from bittorrent sights. Nothing salacious, kust tv shows that have already aired. Not into the freaky stuff…and If I were It is no ones business but mine. lol have a great day.

  6. Tried before. Would a vpn service help prevent this? I use one when transfering files of a sensitive nature between clients. just wondered.

    • Since Skype requires a logon a VPN would not prevent Skype from knowing who you are. A VPN only encrypts between your computer and the VPN server. From there any web site only sees the VPN, but any personal information you send such as logons are associated with your account.

      And this won’t protect you against the most dangerous problem of someone on the other end recording you and blackmailing you if you’ve sent them any identifying information. If you open a fake Skype account while using a VPN, disguise your voice against voice recognition software and wear a mask, you might be safe unless the VPN is subpoenaed and turns you in.

  7. While Skype calls may not be being recorded by a 3rd party, a lot of it can stay on your computer. We (and other digital forensics experts) frequently harvest plenty of Skype chats and other such data from the computer where the call/chat is originated. It can stick around for a long time. So, in a sense, your own computer may be recording some of your Skype communications.

  8. While it may not be practical to record your calls, scanning the call for key words or phrases is practical to build a user profile.
    Think G-mail advertisements.
    It is not happening now, but Microsoft being the technology follower that it is, is migrating slowly to becoming a marketing platform like Google.
    There is a financial reason Microsoft paid billions for Skype instead of just downloading it for free. :-O

  9. I dated someone for a few months that, without my knowledge, video and audio recorded our Skype calls. He also saved every text message I ever sent him, transferring them to the computer, and every e-mail I had sent him. Going through his computer one day, as I thought something was fishy, I found the same information from other women he had “archived” going back many years. Eventually I found he had done the same with me. I am grateful I never gave him a picture of me nor allowed him to take one of me or the two of us. No more online dating or correspondence for me.

    • Obviously I don’t know the guy and perhaps you haven’t given us all the details, but I don’t find anything particularly wrong with saving the emails of someone you are dating. In fact I did it myself. Now I have two large binders of all the emails that my wife and I wrote to each other before we got married (the electronic versions have since been lost, although I did make a backup copy on a floppy disk that is kept in one of the binders – I wonder if the floppy still works?). It’s the modern day equivalent of the guy/girl who keeps the stack of love letters in a trunk in the attic.

      Mind you, had I not married my wife, I probably would have deleted them. I can’t imagine why someone would want to keep them, after you break up.

  10. Interesting article!

    Whilst I am so boring I cannot imagine anyone wanting to listen to my calls, I did wonder if Skype calls via a special Skype phone, via the “router’ and not using a computer, with the other party on a regular land line, are safe from snooping.

  11. I’m sure that if required (by law, NSA, Microsoft etc) all calls can be recorded simply because Skype is not an open source solution, you cannot verify the source code against backdoors etc. Unknown encryption used.. Moreover, it is a well know fast that Microsoft confirmed that they monitor skype chats (google it, if needed). So expect that your calls can be intercepted at any time by skype staff if required.. If you are looking for true phone call encryption, in my opinion, the only solution is to peer to peer encryption solutions based on open encryption standards without intermediate server(s). An example would be http://www.securevoicegsm.com

  12. Dear Leo, being a subsciber to your newsletters for many years now, I’d like to comment on the the topic of internet- phone- Skype- email- or chat-conversations anywhere: when I was young there was no internet, very few people had telephones. You had to meet in person or write a letter to share your thoughts, plans, and secrets – and you did not meet with or write to strangers.
    I admit, the internet is a wonderful thing to get speedy information and to connect in seconds with people all over the world. BUT – normal people are too generous with telling the world about themselves, maybe it’s the ego or they are lonely (because of the computer age). We all know through the media that the governments are collecting data from anyone anywhere if they want to, not to mention hackers.
    So, if you want to launch a bomb attack: don’t use the internet, if you are cheating on your wife/husband: don’t use the phone or the internet (i.e. Prince Charles and Camilla), if you have any dirty secrets: don’t use the internet, if you have money: don’t tell anyone, etc. etc.
    And especially don’t get “cosy” with any online person you have not met and got to know personally. Life would be so much easier if everybody would be a “nice” person you could trust. But unfortunately it is not like that anymore. One has the feeling that everybody is out there to “get you” one way or another.
    The only way one can protect oneself is to NOT give private information (including address, sex, money, photos, spouse, children etc. etc.) to anyone you don’t know in person.
    I know from my own experience: the daughter of a close friend of mine had an online chat friend which developped into quite a serious “affair” over a few weeks, but only online, she had never met him nor did she know who or what he was, how he looked or what he did for a living. She was in love with a phantom. One day he told her a desperate story about needing money for something. She never told my friend what is was for, but she managed to “lend” him a substancial amount (she even took a loan from her bank). She never heard of him again after that. To make a long miserable story short, she discovered that he was a co-worker of her’s in the same company she worked for, he was an undesirable person. The police took care of the situation, and she got off without financial loss, but a big loss to her illusions.
    “It could have been worse” we told her, but she had not only a broken heart for a long time but had no trust in anybody afterwards – which in my opinion – is a bigger loss.
    Leo, you don’t have to publish this story, I just wanted to let you know that if people would not be so eager to expose themselves to strangers and would look for companionship and friends in their own circles there wouldn’t be such a big problem with “privacy concerns” on the internet.
    Regars, Heidi

  13. Cyberspace Privacy?

    1. I agree with Leo that Skype 50-100% wouldn’t record chat and/or video conversations of 50-100% of its users because it would be too costly. However, I suspect 50-100% that our NSA, CIA, FBI, and other crime and intelligence agency would require Skype via Microsoft to record up to 100% of any individual chat and/or video call, including for 100% of Skype users — if any of the aforementioned agencies deemed it necessary. Why? Because the risks of the public finding out this is being done is probably 0% — and even if by some rare chance the public did find out, they can’t do anything about it. The government would simply find a legal-rational and/or propaganda-rationale for doing it. And, again, even if a vocal-minority of persons protest such a discovery, they still don’t have any legal or political power to do anything about it — especially as the government can simply pay us lip-service … such as fake-apologize, claim they’re stopped the practice, but in reality simply reconfigure/reorganize the surveillance under another name/agency/program.

    2. If anyone knows they’re committing a criminal act beyond an infraction, but most especially any act that could 50-100% be legally deemed a terrorist act, then these persons deserved to be caught by any covert-snooping agency — simply because they’re dumb, stupid, incompetent for using technology most know can be covert or secretly hacked or accessed. If you want to be a criminal or enemy-combatant of any state, then at least be superbly-genius smart about it … other don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time OR don’t participate in a covert or overt war if you’re ill-prepared to win any battle or the war.

    3. If you’re not a criminal or enemy-combatant, but you like to play-on-line (and be erotic/sexual naught … or what I call uninhibited) then be such and be 100% confident and proud of such — should any of it ever become public. No matter how prude, conservative, or traditional, or tasteful, or moral, or whatever self-referential beliefs one has about their consensual exchange of erotic/sexual chat and/or videos online, there will always be some individual, some group, or segment of our American culture or another culture that will objective to it as being immoral, slutty, indecent, inappropriate, and any other self-referential, self-appointed morality god-complex such “hypocrites” do. If two (or more) persons engage in “age-of-consent” or “adult” behavior, be it chat or video, but another adult (individual, group, etc) object — then that is “their issue” … not yours. So I say, stop letting these self-appointed guardians “clone” you into their god-complex conformity sickness.

    4. If you trust someone online, that you’ve never met offline or maybe you have and also knew this person for years, but that person (he or she) betrays your cyber-trust by disclosing a confidential or erotic or sexual chat or video or pics, then feel all of the indignation/hurt/pain of being betrayed/deceived. But also do a reality-check — there are no 100% guaranteed trust relationships with any human being — ever! We always … and I emphasize … always take some margin-of-error risk from more than 0 to 100% when we trust another human being … even family members. Trust in every increasing or decreasing percents is given and revoke per our life experiences with individuals, groups, institutions, organizations, and governments. Just leaving our homes into the public sphere is an act of uncertain trust … the daily risk of being mugged, hit by car, murdered, injured by accident, bit by a dog, or any number of possible or probably risks.

    In short, living life is a 0-100% risk — but only a 0% risk if you don’t live life, try to eliminate any and all possible risks (rare to low) that could conceivably or inconceivable happen. Now if one wants to live that kind of insecure or paranoid life-style, then that’s your choice. But for many if not most, I sense we’re willing to take moderate to high risks, depending on the rate of return … meaning the benefit/pleasure we get form engaging in hopefully beneficial activities … and that includes doing online what we may also do off … being legally good and maybe even erotic/sexual naughty.

  14. dear Leo, i wanna know, can someone hack and record my boyfriend or my skype video call during or after video call?
    (sorry because of grammar mistake. my first language is not English)

    • If there is malware on either of your machines, yes. And of course you or your boyfriend could record it. Everything else is answered in the article you commented on.

  15. I use a kindle fire HD. Is my skype going skype to skype or does it go through Amazon servers too? Is the encryption for Skype in the program no matter the device?

  16. Hi Leo,
    Are you able to confirm if it is anyway illegal to record a conversation via the skype video facility?
    I am a UK citizen that is currently in a grievance situation with my employer who has developed a wall of lies around themselves in order to deflect the truth. I recently had cause to have a mobile telephone conversation with a manager who had (unwittingly I think) become embroiled in the lies and was actually giving me feedback on a situation that revealed a very different story and was actually the truth.
    Knowing that the staff member would at some point be put under enormous pressure and be bullied by the employer to “bend” the truth on his behalf, I recorded the conversation on skype, although in order to not scare the person off I didn’t tell them at the time I was doing this. The conversation the manager had with me does not name anyone else or indulge in heresay but was an honest, and I believe, factual account of events that she said had occurred.
    My union and I want to be able to use this recorded evidence in the case.
    Do you know if this is within the law?
    Thank you.

    • That’s a question you’d have to ask a lawyer. You might be able to get legal advice through your labour union.

    • I have no idea. a) I’m not an attorney and b) that law is different depending on both where you live and where the other person lives.

  17. Of course Skype can record your conference! Skype is owned by microsoft which work for the US government. Ask yourself this, do you think the US will miss an opportunity like this? They are watching everyone world wide, this is how they can always be on top and control to have power!
    You have to be stupid to believe this is not going on, if you look back @ 911 the evidence of recording telecommunications came to light! Skype is another form of telecommunication!

  18. Hi., i selected in a company they selected me though Skype video call interview. But now they are saying that you are not that person which I selected.i resigned my previous job also .how I can prove they intervied myself only they put me in bad situation.please tell me how I can prove they selected me only not another person.they said that you looks differently.but I did not record the call please advices how I can prove its my currier.

  19. Unknown person was saved my video while talking on the skype I was blocked that person I want to know the video can be saved are not

  20. Hi Leo
    How r u ?

    Please i need your help i was taking to my friend on skype i talked about 57 min . now i want that voice chat is it possible ?

    • Unless you specifically recorded the conversation you can’t get it. Which highlights two main points from Leo’s article: That Skype isn’t recording your conversations… and that the other party could easily be doing so.

  21. 1. Skype videos are encrypted end to end, so you don’t have to worry about them having a copy.
    2. A third party would only be able to record your video chat if they had direct access to one of the phones through some form of malware or remote access.

  22. Thanks Mark sir,,,
    how can we know that a 3rd party has access to our phones…..or trying for that…..when our wifi off,,,,,bluetooth off,,,,,,phone visibility off…just using directly internet sim card in phone.

    • There is no reliable way to be certain. Malware could do it of course. If you’re “on the internet” then malware or other applications could be doing who knows what on your phone. There’s no way to be certain. It’s HIGHLY UNLIKELY, but if you’re that worried, then simply don’t do whatever it is you don’t want others to see.

  23. Sir Leo & Sir Mark……….
    Please answer me….Please
    Me and my girlfriend living in egypt and we were doing private skype video on our smart phones…..we did not make any record of it,,,,,,is our video recorded/leaked by skype (though owned by Microsoft).???? skype is monitoring only its usa users / all the users of the world….
    As i heard that NSA is recording/asking from skype for its record……..further NSA can asks Skype users out of usa….

    • It’s extremely unlikely that anyone has recorded your calls. Skype uses end-to-end encryption which would protect you against eavesdropping even by Skype itself. If the NSA is monitoring Skype, they wouldn’t be interested in any conversations of a personal nature, as it costs them a lot of resources to decrypt a conversation.

      • Thanks Sir Mark….
        i want your few precious minutes please,,,,,please ,,,,,please
        a) Sir as i told that i m from Egypt outside of usa….does it matters or not for skype encryption…..????
        further me & my girlfrnd did not make any recording of our 4 times private video call,,,,,,,,,,,,,,so should i worried about these calls.?????

        b) currently whats the average figure of Skype users throughout the world……plus no of users doing private video calls…..
        in case say, if Skype is recording video call in its server,,, then is there any time period (30/60/90 days) after which skype delete recorded calls or it can be removed automatically.??

  24. Thanks Sir Mark….i want your few precious minutes please,,,,,

    a) Sir as i told that i m from Egypt……..further we did not make any recording of our 4 times private video call,,,,,,,,,,,,,,so should i worried about it.?????
    inside or outside of usa does matter.???

    b) currently whats the average figure of Skype users throughout the world……including users doing private video calls …………..
    in case of video record by skype,,,,is there any time period of their recorded calls after which the recorded call can be removed.???? say 30 days……60 days…….???

    • I personally wouldn’t worry. With end-to-end encryption, even if Skype recorded your calls, they wouldn’t have the means to decrypt them, and therefore I don’t believe they record video conversations.

      • Thanks Sir,,,,,,,,,,,,,just last question..

        i was using internet sim card of Egyptian cellular company, not a cable internet provider,,,still using the sim card of the same company that is largest company in Egypt,,,,,,,,

        my concern is this that the above Company has any access to our skype video calls,,,,,,,,,,or they are recording/monitoring our conversations of skype…… means such companies in all countries has any access to skype calls

      • Thanks Sir,,,,,,,,,,,,,just last QUERRY..
        i was using internet sim card of Egyptian cellular company, not a cable internet provider,,,still using the sim card of the same company that is largest company in Egypt,,,,,,,,

        my concern is this that the above Company has any access to our skype video calls,,,,,,,,,,or they are recording/monitoring our conversations of skype…… means “”””””””SUCH COMPANIES IN ALL COUNTRIES”””””””” has any ACCESS to skype calls.????????????

  25. Hi.is there any software which can record conversation or video calls of Skype manually or automatically in between first party and second party?let me know.

    • There are numerous programs that can do that. You could simply record onto your computer using something like Audacity. Or you could get a program that interfaces with Skype, such as Pamela recorder.

  26. I utilize AECall to secure my Skype call.
    AECall is an hardware crypto which could encrypt cell phone call and APP call.
    Encrypting the voice before sending into VOIP sever is better. Even the call is recorded, the voice content is still sucure.

    • Skype and some other video chat software use end-to-end encryption. Any servers along the line shouldn’t be able to record the chat, unless you are using a video chat service which doesn’t use end-to-end encryption..

  27. Can we hear earlier skype conference again? since I want to hear my skype conference with my boss again? If yes then How can i obtain from my account?

    • Skype doesn’t make previous conversations available. You’d have to record it yourself at the time of the conversation to be able to hear it again,

  28. Could I see all the pictures someone shared on skype with some third party? For example could i see pictures that were shared between my friend and her boyfriend on skype?

  29. I leaked the videos in Skype and they are blackmailing me if u will not give any money they will upload the videos in Google and you tube ..
    Just before they uploaded the video in YouTube and I promise them I will send money after that they deleted that videos..

    Sir plss what I will do now plss help me..

    Thanks

    • There is nothing you can do – except be careful with what you say and do. It’s so important for everyone to understand that anything that is recorded can be passed around easily. Skype isn’t recording your calls, the the person on the other side can do so very easily.

  30. I’m closing comments on this article.

    PLEASE ACTUALLY READ THE ARTICLE for the various scenarios in which your video calls can, and can not, be recorded. Probably about half the comments being posted here are unnecessary had the poster actually read the article.

    If you are being threatened or extorted I cannot help you. Your only recourse is to contact the police or other local authorities in your area.

    Finally, if any of this concerns you at all, then your options are incredibly clear and obvious: don’t so something in front of a camera that you wouldn’t want posted online for the world to see. It’s very simple.

Comments are closed.