7/14/2006 -- Skype Ltd. is dismissing a claim by a small team of Chinese engineers who say they have reverse engineered the protocol used for Skype Internet phone calls.
The development is being reported by Charlie Paglee, the chief executive officer of Vozin Communications Inc., a VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) company that offers the Talqer plug-in for Google Talk, and which has operations in China and California. Paglee, a Mandarin speaker who has worked in China since 1987, said he knows the people in the small company that reverse engineered the Skype protocol.Skype Ad
Paglee wrote about the reverse engineering on his blog, and said he has been asked not to reveal the name of the company.
The 10-person Chinese company, which has received venture capital funding, is planning to release in two weeks three software components based on the Skype protocol that would allow developers to create compatible applications, Paglee said. Those components comprise voice and instant messaging functions, he said.
Skype's protocol is proprietary so third party developers have not been able to build compatible applications. Some other VoIP applications are based on the open SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) standard, enabling third party developers to create interoperable products.
Skype, a unit of eBay Inc., said Friday it is aware of the claim but had "no evidence to suggest that this is true."
"Even if it was possible to do this, the software code would lack the feature set and reliability of Skype," according to a statement from Skype. "Moreover, no amount of reverse engineering would threaten Skype's cryptographic security or integrity."
By cracking the Skype protocol, the company claims it can also block Skype voice traffic, Paglee said. "They could literally turn the lights off on Skype in China very, very quickly," said Paglee, who is also a lawyer and engineer, speaking from California on Friday.
The company could transfer the technology to the Chinese government, which has continually sought ways to tighten its filtering and control over the Internet. So far, the company doesn't have any plans to market its blocking capabilities, Paglee said.
Other security companies have been developing methods to block Skype, since the data packets it uses are hard to detect. Enterprises are concerned Skype's file transfer capabilities could threaten its intellectual property if used improperly by an employee.Skype Ad
(Contributed by Jeremy Kirk)