Skype is adding an option for encrypted conversations

James Marshall
January 12, 2018

Microsoft will be using the Signal open-source protocol to encrypt these communications.

Microsoft is now testing a new private conversation feature for skype with end-to-end encryption using the industry standard Signal protocol by Open Whisper Systems. It has not yet given a firm date for a wider rollout. The encryption will cover chat, files, and audio messages but audio and video calls are not encrypted. For now, Private Conversations with end-to-end encryption is available only to Skype Insider testers using Skype for iOS, Android, Linux, Mac and Windows Desktop.

Once you end or delete a Private Conversation, you need to send a fresh invite to start another and recover the chat history.

Skype users can start a Private Conversation by tapping on the + icon followed by New Private Conversation. "You can switch the conversation to any of your devices, but the messages you send and receive will be tied to the device you're using at the time".

Discussing the collaboration on its blog, Signal adds: "Our goal is to make private communication simple and ubiquitous". WhatsApp, Viber, and Facebook Messenger all let you choose between encrypted and non-encrypted messaging threads, providing the best of both worlds. Some would say "barely". WhatsApp was one of the first major messaging apps to enable it two years ago, but a group of German researchers recently uncovered several potentially serious flaws in WhatsApp group messaging that could be exploited to add new members to the encrypted chat without authentication. Keep in mind that you won't be able to use the feature unless you're talking to another person also using a Skype Insider app. This means that Skype users may see a complete roll out of end-to-end encryption in the coming days if all goes well.

If Microsoft gives the go-ahead and E2E support lands in the Skype stable release, all of today's major IM platforms will be supporting encrypted conversations as optional, non-default features.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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