Archive for the 'voip' Category

Skype Reverse-Engineered

Friday, July 14th, 2006

VoIPWiki reports that the Skype protocol was successfully cracked by a company in China, who promised to release a demo version by end of August. This is amazing – not the news itself, but the extent to which they have gone. Several reverse-engineering reports have been issued but no one has built a working prototype until now.

This goes to show that: obfuscation is obfuscation – it will not last, not if you’re as popular as Skype.

What does this mean?

Many are predicting / recommending that the eBay company documents its protocol. I can safely say that they will not. This is only news to techies; it may make its way to NYT but people will forget. In fact, as long as it works, they will not lose any market share.

However, it would be great if the Chinese company would publish their findings so that the protocol can be enhanced by others and a more efficient, and certainly open protocol can be created to benefit users.

Think about the 3 main advantages that Skype possesses:
1. Proprietary protocol – which allows them to have tight control over the evolution of the protocol.

2. Good NAT traversal technology – this is the main point. This is critical to their success.

3. Good codec – the GIPS codecs work extremely well. This also ties back to the first point – they know what codecs their clients can support which is much better what gets negotiated in a heterogenous SIP environment.

It’s all in the app. Now, I’d like to see an open source effort is dedicated to making a product work well with the protocol design rather than wasting time trying to obfuscate it!