Microsoft Skype Conversations Reviewed Without Security: Report

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Security and privacy lapses aren't something new. The latest one to come under the radar is Microsoft, where contractors in China have reportedly listened to Skype call and Cortana recordings without 'no security measures'. Reports from the Guardian note that thousands of calls and recordings were reviewed without any security protection.

Microsoft Skype Conversations Reviewed Without Security: Report

 

Microsoft Audio Recordings

The report highlights a former Microsoft contractor, who claims to have reviewed thousands of Skype and Cortana audio recordings. The contractor notes that he accessed these audio files on his personal laptop from his home in Beijing. He claims to have reviewed audio for over two years.

During his time as a Microsoft contractor, he was given the URL, username, and password (which were sent via email). He says he educated himself on computer security and that was it. During the transcription period, he says he listened to 'all kinds of unusual conversations'.

"There were no security measures, I don't even remember them doing proper KYC [know your customer] on me. I think they just took my Chinese bank account details," he said to the Guardian. As the contractor was British, he listened to those recordings where people set their Microsoft devices to British English.

What Microsoft Says

In a statement made to CNET, Microsoft says that all the calls are now transcribed in 'secure facilities in a small number of countries'. Reports state that the tech giant is moving its review program to other secure facilities, none of which are in China.

The Microsoft Skype conversations reviewed data came to light after Motherboard found contractors listening to audio recordings and voice conversations on Skype and Cortana. The report stated that the company was listening and gathering data, including personal and sensitive ones. The contractors were paid between $12 and $14 an hour for the job that included transcribing up to 200 audio clips every hour.

 

A Microsoft spokesperson said that the company has carefully reviewed the process used and also the communication with customers. "As a result, we updated our privacy statement to be even more clear about this work, and since then we've significantly enhanced the process including by moving these reviews to secure facilities in a small number of countries," the company noted.

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