RFCs or Request For Comments are the publications about how the technical details of how Internet works. They go all the way back to the earliest days of the ARPANET, used to share information among a small group of researchers. RFCs are published by the RFC Editor and cover Internet fundamentals such as TCP, IP, and SMTP. My first RFC was one for Session Initiation Protocol or SIP which was published as RFC 3261. Since then, I have published 14 others, but I’m most proud of this one.
ZRTP is a security protocol for providing privacy for VoIP calls over the Internet. It was invented by Phil Zimmermann, who invented PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) for email encryption in the 90’s. When I met him in 2005, he had an idea how to encrypt voice calls and some very rough prototype code. I helped him turn it into a protocol, and wrote the outline of the document that was published today. I’ve been the editor of this document for the past 5 years.
I think ZRTP is the best way to secure voice and video over the Internet. The reasons are a bit technical, but perhaps I’ll attempt explain why in another post. In the meantime, Phil Zimmermann’s Zfone Project web page has some good points in it.
Oh, and there is one other reason why I’m proud of this document – I came up with the name ZRTP. RTP stands for Real-time Transport Protocol. And of course, Z stands for Phil! It was a joke at first, but it kind of stuck.
ZRTP even makes an appearance in my techno thriller novel, Counting from Zero. The protagonist, Mick O’Malley uses ZRTP to ensure that all his voice and video communication is private, thwarting those who would like to wire tap his communications.
It has been a lot of work getting this RFC published, and I’m quite proud of the work. And over the years, I’ve become good friends with Phil, which is a real bonus.
Today I’m going to have a mini celebration – happy first birthday ZRTP, RFC 6189!