Best practices for use of Skype on the UNC-Chapel Hill network

General Best Practices for Computer Users

To ensure safe and secure computing, be sure to follow general best practices. Make sure you have the latest version of an antivirus program and be sure to download and install the latest security patches for your operating system and programs. For more information on securing your computer please see Securing Your Computer on the UNC network.

Specific Recommendations for Skype Users

The following are specific recommendations for using Skype on the UNC-Chapel Hill network.

Minimize Threats to Your Skype Account

Skype users have received messages through the Skype chat client that have in turn led to viruses, malware, and adware programs getting installed on the Skype user’s computer. To minimize the chance that your account is targeted by such spoof messages, set your Skype account to only allow calls and IM chat from people on your buddy list. To determine whether a message on Skype chat is legitimate, check the Skype security blog for updates on spoof messages and the latest anti-malware updates. Alternatively, you can contact ITS Security at security@unc.edu with any questions about downloads offered through Skype chat client.

Understand the UNC-Chapel Hill Acceptable Use Policy

If you use Skype on the campus network or if you use other UNC-Chapel Hill computing resources to do so, you must still be in compliance with the UNC-Chapel Hill Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). As the enduser of Skype, you are responsible for any violations of the UNC-Chapel Hill Acceptable Use Policy which may occur as a result of the use of Skype. Please note that under the AUP it is forbidden to use UNC-Chapel Hill network resources in a way that Use of Skype can lead to a violation of the Acceptable Use Policy when users act as supernodes. Supernode users can consume excessive bandwidth and slow network traffic down for everyone else on the campus network.

Prevent Your Computer From Acting As a Supernode

The following is taken from the Universities Section of the Skype Security Resource Center.

  • Beginning with Skype 3.0, an explicit switch is provided in the registry settings to allow the disabling of supernode functionality.
  • Any computer hosted on a network that is behind a network address translation (NAT) device or restrictive firewall will disable supernode functionality.
  • Skype clients behind an HTTP or SOCKS5 proxy will not serve as supernodes.
  • To conserve bandwidth, limit the time that Skype is running and turn off Skype when done with any calls. Closing the Skype window will not turn off Skype. To turn off the application, you will need to quit the application by right clicking on the Skype icon in the system tray.

Using Skype Allows Skype Software To Control Your Computer

More so than in just the general sense whereby a computer program controls your computer, understand that using Skype provides the Skype software control over your computer and its settings. As stated in the Skype user agreement:

Configure Your Firewall to Work with Skype

Using Skype does not mean that a firewall can no longer be used to protect your computer. For information on how to configure your firewall to allow Skype usage, see the Skype guide for configuring a firewall for use with Skype. It is recommended that users do not disable their existing firewall, but merely modify it to permit use of Skype. Firewalls provide an important safeguard for computer users and limit unauthorized intrusions.