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Researcher claims to crack Skype protocol

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Researcher claims to crack Skype protocol Empty Researcher claims to crack Skype protocol

Post by Justin_Romile on Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:12 am

A freelance researcher has claimed to cracking open the protocols used by popular video chat utility Skype - and made the source available for download.

Efim Bushmanov said his aim is to make Skype open source, and to find friends who can spend many hours to completely reverse-engineer it.

"Now, most of (the) hard things (are) already done (for 1.x/3.x/4.x versions of Skype). Including rc4 and arithmetic compression," he said in a blog post.

He said Skype appears to use strong AES and RSA encryption with public key infrastructure.

But he also admitted some of his work is based on Skype's older protocols, which he said may have been slightly changed.

Online security firm Sophos said an open source project to create a Skype-alike software product "would therefore be an interesting beast."

"(Open)-source Skype implementations for Linux and OS X would probably be in Microsoft's overall interest - Microsoft could simply give up on the existing Linux and OS X code bases without creating any bitterness amongst those communities. They'd be able to take up the software development reins - just as gung-ho open sourcers are supposed to if they don't like what's already on offer," Sophos' Paul Ducklin said in a blog post.

"And if Microsoft can build an attractive-enough back-end service for Skype, it will be able to convert Skype from a loss-making peer-to-peer pseudo-telephone company into yet another handy reason to sign up for a Microsoft LiveID and to join the fun in the Cloud According to Redmond," he added.

Skype earned headlines recently when Microsoft acquired it for $8.5 billion, despite having huge debts,

Ducklin said an open-source Skype may likely lead to "multiple choices of client for the Skype service, rather than a complete competitive service."

On the other hand, he said an open-source Skype clone would probably be in Microsoft's favor - "by reducing the objections of those security practitioners who don't like secret cryptographic implementations."

Legal action

"What we can't guess, however, is how Redmond will respond. Will Bushmanov get a cease-and-desist letter? Will anyone who looks at his reverse-engineering efforts be tainted when it later comes to implementing Skype-compatible code?" Ducklin said.

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