Chat protocols are very popular on the Internet. They have actually been very popular since the very first chat protocols appeared on the net. The Internet Relay Chat (IRC) was one of the first chat protocols, and quickly gained the status of being the most popular chat on the net. Today, IRC has several competitors from various other so called Instant Messaging (IM) protocols, such as ICQ. However, all of these different chat protocols have something in common; they are all insecure. The security is important feature in applications and protocols in contemporary network environment. The older chat protocols, however have failed to meet the growing security requirements on the Internet. It is not anymore enough to just provide services, like for example chat services. Now, they need to be secure services.
The Secure Internet Live Conferencing (SILC) protocol is a new generation chat protocol which provides full featured conferencing services, just like any other contemporary chat protocol provides. In addition, it provides security by encrypting and authenticating the messages in the network. The security has been the primary goal of the SILC protocol and the protocol has been designed from the day one security in mind. All packets and messages travelling in the SILC Network are always encrypted and authenticated. The network topology is also different from for example IRC network. The SILC network topology attempts to be more powerful and scalable than the IRC network. The basic purpose of the SILC protocol is to provide secure conferencing services. The SILC Protocol have been developed as Open Source project. The protocol specifications are freely available and they have been submitted to the IETF. The very first implementations of the protocol are also already available.
SILC (Secure Internet Live Conferencing) is a protocol which provides secure conferencing services on the Internet over insecure channel. SILC superficially resembles IRC, although they are very different internally. They both provide conferencing services and have almost the same set of commands. Other than that, they are nothing alike. The SILC is secure and the network model is entirely different compared to IRC.
SILC provides security services that any other conferencing protocol does not offer today. The most popular conferencing service, IRC, is entirely insecure. If you need secure place to talk to some person or to group of people over the Internet, IRC or any other conferencing service, for that matter, cannot be used. Anyone can see the messages and their contents in the IRC network. And the most worse case, some is able to change the contents of the messages. Also, all the authentication data, such as, passwords are sent plaintext in IRC.