The amount of news and discussion surrounding a secure skype alternative has, at minimum, been at a quiet roar for the last decade. Let’s take a look a look at some of the rocky recent years:
In 2006, security researcher Kostya Kortchinsky announced and demonstrated the exposure associated with the decentralized configuration that arguably allowed Skype to dominate. Based upon a few key attributes, at any given time 10s of thousands of standard Skype users acted as supernodes to allow the entire peer to peer network to thrive.
In 2011 Skype was purchased by Microsoft, to the dismay of some of the Skype loyal, for $8.5 billion. Soon after, the practice of user-based supernodes was abandoned:
As part of our ongoing commitment to continually improve the Skype user experience, we developed supernodes which can be located on dedicated servers within secure datacentres. This has not changed the underlying nature of Skype’s peer-to-peer (P2P) architecture, in which supernodes simply allow users to find one another (calls do not pass through supernodes). We believe this approach has immediate performance, scalability and availability benefits for the hundreds of millions of users that make up the Skype community. -Mark Gillett, CVP, Skype Product Engineering & Operations
Skype traffic was now fully and exclusively inside Microsoft’s house. When combined with recent NSA-associated news the past roars of a secure Skype alternative are now louder than ever.
Amongst hundreds of other startup efforts, enter Tok.im.
From their site:
With the rise of widespread government monitoring programs, Tox is an easy to use application that allows you to connect with friends and loved ones without anyone else listening in.
We, specifically, are not all that interested in the government privacy aspects. We are, however, interested in the general privacy aspects. Additionally, we’ve high hopes regarding the implied control and potential democratization this could represent as a secure Skype alternative.
Skype dominates today. No one else comes close to the comprehensive audio, video, and text conferencing fluidity they provide. Once someone does, count us in for a beta signup-