Efim Bushmanov has decided he wants to open source the Skype protocol. The researcher claims to have already achieved the reverse engineering part.
Bushmanov has posted skype_part1_binaries.zip, skype_part2_ida.zip, and skype_part3_source.zip on depositfiles.com. He has also uploaded a torrent file to The Pirate Bay and posted the source on GitHub. The source code encompasses Skype versions 1.x, 3.x, and 4.x as well as details of the rc4 layer arithmetic encoding the service uses.
"While 'Wall Street Journal' makes politics and Skype today's trend, I want to publish my research on this," Bushmanov writes in a statement. "My aim is to make Skype open source. And find friends who can spend many hours for completely reverse it."
The code available for download will give insight into how Skype works. On the other hand, this could result in multiple security risks for Skype if holes are found that can be exploited.
"This unauthorized use of our application for malicious activities like spamming/phishing infringes on Skype’s intellectual property," a Skype spokespersons said in a statement. "We are taking all necessary steps to prevent/defeat nefarious attempts to subvert Skype’s experience. Skype takes its users’ safety and security seriously and we work tirelessly to ensure each individual has the best possible experience."
Following rumors that Google, Facebook, and Microsoft were all interested in the Skype, the software giant swooped in. Last month, Microsoft announced that it was acquiring Skype for $8.5 billion in cash. The deal was approved by the boards of directors of both companies, and is Microsoft's largest acquisition to date.
It will be quite difficult for Bushmanov to try to open source Skype with the VoIP company breathing down his back. It will be even more difficult to do so with the largest software company in the world trying to stop him. Microsoft will make sure that Skype will remain a closed platform. We'd be surprised if Redmond allowed this to get very far, assuming that Skype itself doesn't shut down the efforts before the acquisition is completed.
Even if there were no legal obstacles to surmount, I honestly don't see the point of trying to open source Skype. The service is excellent the way it is, and there are many alternatives available anyway.