The so-called Skype SDK IP leaks

April 29, 2012

For the last few days, there has been a buzzing news in the community, following the recent discovery of a so-called information leak in the skype SDK. [email protected], published a python code sample “exploiting this vulnerability” using a de-obfuscated SDK and published a demo site @ More related information on the skype-open-source project can be found @

So to sump-up, the “so-called leak” takes place by: 1. having “debug logging enabled” in the hi-jacked SDK 2. triggering a lookup information on a user who happens to be online, such as seeing his vcard and blam! both private and public ip addresses of this user are shown in the log.

OMG cat, Surprised cat (lolcat) says OMG

Now, I say “so-called” leak, because truth be told, this isn’t leak nor a bug and here is why:

The skype protocol is merely at its core a P2P protocol - while it has never standardized and is fully proprietary, a minimum understanding on how P2P architecture operates clearly explain why the skype client passes such information, after all, there aren’t truly such things as relay servers in a P2P network,  clients in this case are exchanging the VoIP traffic directly and doing all the processing. Skype’s communication architecture constitutes of 3 types of nodes, “login servers”, “supernodes” and “standard nodes”.

To put it as simple as possible, “login servers” are the servers you connect to authenticate, “standard nodes” are clients (skype clients) sitting behind a NAT firewall and “supernodes” (most interesting for this article) are simply the opposite of “standard nodes”, in other words, they are directly assigned a public IP address and no firewall rules are blocking a direct connection to the skype random port client.

For a call to take place between 2 “standard nodes”, they must have a direct non NATed connection, since “standard nodes” sit behind a NAT/firewall, a direct connection between the 2 hosts is therefore not possible, to overcome this skype uses a technique called “UDP hole-punching” and this is where “supernodes” come into play.

###UDP hole-punching “simplified”####

UDP hole-punching is a simple technique which persists in somewhat convincing the firewall that the incoming UDP packets are responses of an already established connection. Now I say “established”, but remember, UDP is not connection oriented, so we basically have no concept of sessions and all that nasty-SYN-overhead :-P, but we have a NAT recorded session which we could exploit.

To clarify: assume we have 2 hosts A, B each with a NAT/firewall and a random server called X. UDP hole-punching works as follow:

  1. A and B connect to X (whether that be UDP or TCP)
  2. Through the connection, X is aware of A and B’s public NAT and source ports
  3. X communicate to A, B’s public NAT and source port and vice-versa to B
  4. A sends a UDP packet with its previous source port to B’s public NAT
  5. Naturally B’s firewall will reject the UDP packet, but as A sent that packet to B’s NAT IP, A’s firewall recorded the NAT session with the source port used by A and here is the punchole
  6. B is aware of A’s source port from the exchange with server X, so B sends a packet A’s NAT IP with the destination source as A’s source port, since the NAT session was recorded in step 4, blam! the firewall forwards B’s UDP packet to A.

Now that you have a basic understanding of UDP hole-punching, keep in mind that a supernode will act as a relay in the case that A and B are still unable to communicate in cases where the firewalls are randomizing the source IP of the clients when the NAT process takes place.

Finally, you may ask:

“Ok, I get it! A needs to know B’s public IP and vice-versa, but why the private IP addresses, as seen in the so-called skype SDK IP leak”.

Well, you are right, why is Skype communicating the private IP address? Well, it is like answering, why would 2 hosts communicate over their NAT IPs if they could directly communicate through their privately assigned IP addresses? in other words, if 2 clients are located on 2 routeable LANs, it would be faster for them to exchange internally than externally and hence the reasons why during the hole-punching process, both A and B reported not only their public IPs but also their private IPs which server X exchanged between the 2 clients, both ending up knowing the public and private IPs as well as source ports of the opposite peer.

So… there is no leak, just some guys who figured out how to enable “printf” in an SDK which hooks to your client :)

Cool CAt

Needless to say, if you are curious as the kind of information which circumvent over skype  - read more @