My Bank Balance is a Phone Number
If you’re getting weird numbers that look more like telephone numbers in your online bank account balances, then it might not have anything to do with winning the lottery, but to do with Skype. Here’s how to fix it.
A Skype extension for your Internet Explorer or Firefox browser is an option you can install with the latest version of Skype (version 3) for Windows. As the Skype explanation linked to above puts it:
Skype now has browser extensions for Internet Explorer and Firefox. You can choose at install time if you want to install these or not. They automatically convert phone numbers on web pages into Skype links. You can simply click them and Skype starts a SkypeOut call to that number.
Well, yes. That is indeed what happens. But it also turns anything that could be a telephone number on Yellow Pages into something that Skype can call. But more insidiously, it also converts bank balances into telephone numbers, like this one submitted by a reader from Canada:
This would freak out the casual user not a little, I should think. Who wants to think that a piece of code in their browser is scouring their bank account Web site and turning anything it can find into telephone numbers? Indeed, my first response on hearing that something was altering their online bank Web page was to fear the worst, and assume some nasty Trojan had found its way into their computer. In fact, what has happened is that the user has allowed the overactive Skype extension to be installed and is now finding it hard to know how much money they’ve got left in their account. (Not to mention the conniptions that result from suspecting something bad is happening.)
Anyway, the solution is an easy one: Remove the offending extension. Do do this, go into Tools/Manage Add-ons (in Internet Explorer 6) or Manage Add-ons./Enable or Disable Add-ons… (in Internet Explorer 7) and disable any extensions with Skype in them (there should be either, or both Skype technologies SA Browser Extension and Skype add-on (Mastermind) Browser helper Object.) Disabling them is simply a question of selecting them and then clicking on Disable in the lower left corner of the window. You will probably have to restart your browser.
Maybe I’m missing something, but I can’t find any mention of this on Skype’s Web site, so I’m going to ask them for clarification. My personal feeling: This kind of extension should be smarter than it is. Tinkering with a banking – or any financial — Web site’s display in the browser should be a no-no. The extension should recognise either that the browser is in secure zone, and therefore should not be scanned or altered, or it should be smart enough to distinguish between a telephone number and any other kind of number.
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25. February 2007 by jeremy
Categories: Security | Tags: bank account, bank balances, banking, Browser Helper Object, Canada, Features of Skype, Freeware, Internet Explorer, online bank, online bank account balances, Portable software, Skype, Skype security, Skype technologies, Social Issues, WEB Broadcasting Systems Inc. | 3 comments