Microsoft starts testing encrypted Skype conversations with Skype Insiders

Signal partners with Microsoft to bring end-to-end encryption to Skype jlund on 11 Jan 2018

Security is a big concern for many users and while most typically think of that as meaning you protect your PC from malware, there are also easy ways to protect your conversations as well.

Microsoft has begun rolling out a new feature which allows end-to-end encryption in Skype conversations which is dubbed as "Private Conversation". Full encryption covers audio messages, text chat and files but is not implemented for standard audio and video calling. Restarting a Private Conversation with the same contact will recover the previous messages. Signal Protocol powers end-to-end encryption in Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Messenger, as well as Google Allo.

Signal, the company behind the encrypted messaging app by the same name, has announced a new partnership with Microsoft. Private Conversations with end-to-end encryption is available only to Skype Insider testers using Skype 8.13.76.8 for iOS, Android, Linux, Mac, and Windows Desktop.

Whisper's Signal app was originally considered to be one of the more reliable apps to communicate privately between two devices, receiving full marks on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's first scorecard for secure messaging apps. Once the contact accepts your invite, the Private Conversation will be available to you only on that specific device.

To try it out, Microsoft recommends that you simply select "New Private Conversation" from the app's Compose menu or from the recipient's profile. But this isn't the same as end-to-end encryption.

Microsoft also clarified that you can't edit a message or forward files within a Private Conversation.

The concern here for me is the fact that the feature is an opt-in one-you will have to enable it to have your conversation encrypted. Encrypted conversations are locked to the device they are started on. The researchers recommend that WhatsApp add an additional authentication mechanism for group chats, but in the meantime users may want to stick to one-on-one conversations when discussing sensitive information.

Once upon a time, Skype's distributed peer-to-peer communications was considered pretty good for privacy.

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