Online trolls are a pox upon gaming. Gracious losers are a scarce resource in the multiplayer jungle, and while some will merely resort to immature insults if they lose (more so if you dare to be a female gamer) others go to more disturbing lengths to exact real-world vengeance for virtual slights.
Some losers go so far as to launch online attacks against players who beat them, ranging from DDoS attacks to falsely triggering SWAT raids on their “enemies”. A lack of online security, allowing players’ identities and locations to be relatively easily discerned, is part of the problem, and one that Skype is trying to address.
The latest update to the Microsoft-owned messaging and call service — which can be used by players for group voice chat while engaged in multiplayer games — will no longer allow other users to see your IP address. It’s a relatively simple move, and not a bullet-proof solution to being tracked down online, but it’s a small step in the right direction.
Skype previously allowed users to choose whether or not they wanted their IP address to be shared with contacts. The new update, which is live now, keeps those details hidden from other users by default, although users can choose to share that information if they like. You probably shouldn’t though.
“Skype is fully committed to delivering as safe and secure of an experience as possible to our customers. We have recently introduced the ability to hide a Skype user’s IP address and we’ve set this as a default status in the latest versions of Skype,” Microsoft says on the Skype Blog. “Starting with this update to Skype and moving forward, your IP address will be kept hidden from Skype users. This measure will help prevent individuals from obtaining a Skype ID and resolving to an IP address.”
While the measure is targeted specifically at gamers — the update announcment is even headed “To our gamers” — better protection could benefit other victims of online harassment. How well it works is, of course, another matter.