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Skype

Friday, August 25th, 2006 by | Filed Under: Using The Internet
 
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Skype

Have you heard of Skype yet? To be honest with you, I hadn’t really heard about it either until a customer called the other day and asked if one of our products worked with it or not. Chad, our tech support staff member of course knew about it, but I hadn’t really heard any hype about it or anything. I decided to check it out anyway and below is what I came up with. I figured I might as well share it will all of you wonderful people, so here we go!

Skype (pronounced in rhyme with type) is a peer to peer Internet telephony network that was founded by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis. It’s basically another VoIP service and it competes against other VoIPs like SIP, IAX and H.323. Skype offers both a free and paid service and it has been gaining popularity since its launch in 2005.

This new type of communication is mainly known for its broad range of features (which include free voice and video conferencing) and how it uses peer to peer technology to get past firewall and NAT (network address translation) difficulties. Skype is run by software that each user must have installed on their computer. Everyone must keep in mind though that the software is proprietary. Some of the features Skype offers are SkypeOut, Skypeln, Skype Voicemail, Skype Chat, Skype Video Calling, Skypecasts, Skype SMS, Skype Web Toolbar, Skype Zones and Skype History Logs.

Most other VoIP services run on a server to client model, while Skype runs by peer to peer, as I said earlier. This makes it possible for the Skype network to run to a large community of users (currently just over 100 million) without a high cost rate. Along with the low cost, Skype also offers a variety of security features. Below are some of those:

  • All Skype traffic is encrypted and users are not able to change this default option.
  • Skype uses openly available and strong encryption algorithms.
  • Since the user cannot turn the default encryption state off, they don’t have to deal with the issues that surround that.
  • The closed source option leaves no room for security vulnerability.
  • The proprietary service prevents any type of “man in the middle” and replay attacks.
  • You are required to enter a key number when logging in.
  • You are able to use the service without revealing your real life identity. No ID cards are needed when signing up.

You can get the software needed from Skype’s main Web site. You can check out all of the different features that Skype has to offer on the site as well. There’s even a video you can watch to learn more about the complete service. Go ahead and check it all out before you commit yourself to it!

Note: While Skype continues to get rid of all the bugs in its service, there have also been some concerns with it among some people. Most of the problems within the software have been addressed and ironed out though. There have also been some suspicions with Skype being a closed source service and a proprietary one, which have drawn some criticisms from other VoIP developers and users.

Before you pass any judgments, you may want to check out Skype for yourself and see if it’s something you’d like to use or not. It never hurts to give it a look, right?!

~ Erin

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