And why exactly would I want to install “Ringjacker” and let other people hijack my inbound ringtone?

Why in the world would I want to install a Skype “extra” that lets people change my inbound ringtone? i.e. they can make my version of Skype ring with a different ringtone than I have it configured for – or play annoying messages. I can only imagine working in an office and having Skype set to have a quiet non-obtrusive ring… and then suddenly someone calls me with some loud and really obnoxious ring (or profane or pornographic).

Why would I want to do this?

Scanning my personal email this morning, I had a “newsletter” from Skype encouraging me to download the latest version (which I found especially ironic given that I’m running the very latest version) and in that newsletter they highlighted several “extras” by name. One was “Ringjacker” and had this text:

Hijack your friend’s ringtone – ring them up with your music.

Okay, I’m a security guy… mention something like that and yes, Skype, you have my attention. In looking at the Ringjacker page in the Extras gallery, it has this ominous text (my emphasis added):

Ringjacker™ is the next generation of ringtone released on Skype phones. It is an optional plug-in application in Skype that enables Skype callers to ring up other Skype users with a selection of songs, tracks and sound effects. Ringjacker™ is a perfect conversation starter. The free plug-in lets a caller make his or her friends’ Skype phone ring with any of a range of audio tracks, including perenial Electronica, classic seasonal songs, and various hilarious animal calls to surprise and delight the recipient. Ringjacker™ allows the user to temporarily hijack his or her friends’ Skype ringer and will be available worldwide via the Skype 3.0 distribution.

The perfect “conversation starter“? I can think of a few other choice words. Perhaps I’m just a control freak, but I don’t want anyone messing with MY phone configuration! Naturally at this point, my curiousity – and concern – was getting heightened. Was this going to make me uninstall Skype or leave it in DND mode all the time? So I went over to the Ringjacker home page to learn more about the company. Thankfully, on the help page they answered my question:

(Note: if the contact does not have Ringjacker installed, the contact will be sent a message asking the contact to install Ringjacker. Only after the contact has installed Ringjacker will you be able to make a Ringjacker call to that contact.)

Whew! So in other words the only people who will be bothered by Ringjacker’s tones are those who choose to install this extra. Which goes back to my original question – why in the world would someone want to install this extra?

Now, I’m all for experimentation and encouraging people to try out wacky ideas, but I just don’t get it. I guess that the Ringjacker folks believe this will be “fun”. Maybe I’m just being a grumpy curmudgeon who needs to drink more tea before blogging in the morning… but the only thing I can see installing this extra would do is set myself up for more annoyances! What do you think? Would any of you actually use this? Since we’re on a security blog, I’m betting no, but thought I’d ask… 🙂

P.S. Judging by the user comments in the Skype extras site, there appear to also be some technical issues, although many of those may be with Skype’s own Extras component.

5 thoughts on “And why exactly would I want to install “Ringjacker” and let other people hijack my inbound ringtone?

  1. Martyn Davies

    I guess that once you’ve seen CRBT (Color Ringback Tone, where the caller hears a tune of your choice instead of the normal “ring ring”), then changing the other guy’s ringback tone is a pretty obvious jump for people thinking of new services. However, I’m with you; how would I know that it was my phone ringing, if the tone keeps changing all the time?

  2. Matt Hamrick

    Yes Dan, you are a grumpy curmudgeon, but that’s not important right now… 😉

    I was thinking that Ringjacker would only allow you to choose from a number of a set of pre-qualified ringtones, but their site definitely implies that you can record a message and ring someone else’s’ client with it.

    While I don’t like the idea of just anyone doing this, in a perfect world where we didn’t have to worry about security, I can see how it might be “fun” to give my wife or friends the ability to moo at me to get my attention. With a little bit of luck, I could even coax them into providing me with sounds that could be used to blackmail them in the future.

    But we don’t live in that world, so even though I think it’s clear that the youngin’s this plugin is aimed at couldn’t care a whit about security, I have to agree with you. At best it’s an invitation for chicanery, at worst it broadens the “security cross-section” of a system. I have enough nightmares about bad-guys reverse engineering Skype 1.x and infecting the million or so people still running old clients. We don’t need to add to the trauma by increasing the code size and adding one more potential point of failure… especially on systems running software that specializes in worming its way through firewalls…


  3. Dan York Post author

    @Martyn: Good point… how *would* I know that it was my phone?

    @Matt: Thanks for the comment, and yes, the issue with older clients out there is definitely a strong point.

  4. yahia

    Yes Dan, you are a grumpy curmudgeon, yet i cant imagine anyone changing any of my network or even one system settings with me getting several sleepless nights .
    thx skipe but no no no

  5. Johanna

    Dan York; Thanks soooo much. about the ringjacker ring tone. I was just informed by skype that I had “won” a free ringjacker ring tone gizmo. I am horrified that someone can screw around with my system for “fun” Some fun. Don’t I have enough nightmares about someone sending me worms, trojan horses and messing with me — or heaven forbid through me to my clients. Skype, get real. This “freebie” ain’t free. Johanna

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