Security

Microsoft adds end-to-end encryption to Skype for secure conversations

Available to Skype Insiders, the Private Conversations feature is built on the Signal Protocol by Open Whisper Systems.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Microsoft announced the preview of end-to-end encrypted Private Conversations for Skype, adding protection for sensitive discussions.
  • These private conversations can be used with audio calls and text chat, but can only be used on a single device at a time.

On Thursday, Microsoft announced that it was adding end-to-end encryption to Skype conversations. The new feature, announced via a blog post, is called Private Conversations, and is available for Skype Insiders now.Skype was already using 256-bit AES encryption, as reported by Mary Jo Foley on our sister site ZDNet. However, the end-to-end goes a step further than this by encrypting stored messages as well.

While a host of consumer chat and calling products utilize end-to-end encryption, Skype using the technology could make it a better option for Microsoft shops operating in highly-regulated markets. It could also make Skype a strong tool for remote workers who regularly need to discuss sensitive issues with colleagues.

SEE: Encryption policy template (Tech Pro Research)

Private Conversations was created using the Signal Protocol by Open Whisper Systems, the post said. Each private conversation's content will be hidden in both the chat list and from notifications for better privacy.

Skype Insiders can navigate to the Compose menu and select "New Private Conversation" to get started. Once the conversation or message chain begins, it will remain end-to-end encrypted until it is ended, the post said.

Bear in mind that only a single device can be used with each conversation, the post said. A user can switch to a different device, but the previous content won't carry over.

For now, Private Conversations can only occur between two Skype Insiders (one-on-one) who are running the latest version of the application. Microsoft is calling for feedback on the service before it makes it generally available.

Skype Insiders using Skype version 8.13.76.8 for iOS, Android, Linux, Mac, or Windows Desktop can currently access Private Conversations.

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Image: iStockphoto/phototechno

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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