Skype starts testing new 'private conversations' with end-to-end encryption

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Skype's end-to-end encryption will use the industry standard Signal Protocol from Open Whisper Systems. Microsoft adds that "these interactions are limited to one-to-one conversations".

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. In an announcement, both Microsoft and Signal have announced a partnership to begin testing end-to-end encryption for Skype Insiders through a new "Private Conversations" feature.

For now, Private Conversations can only occur between two Skype Insiders (one-on-one) who are running the latest version of the application. End-to-end encryption will be provided for text messages, audio calls, as well as several types of files.

A Private Conversation will have a lock icon next to your contact's name, and preview messages will not show up in Chats or notifications.

Give it a try by selecting "New Private Conversation" from the compose menu or from the recipient's profile.

Though Microsoft is using some degree of encryption already with Skype, having end-to-end encryption takes security and privacy to the next level.

Skype had the potential to be what WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are now.

Signal messages and calls are end-to-end encrypted and "painstakingly engineered to keep your communication safe", the company said.

Microsoft has partnered with encrypted messaging app Signal to encrypt messages on Skype. However, Marlinspike explained that doing so would tip off everyone in a group that someone had been added, and that all end-to-end encrypted conversations up to that point in the group could not be read by the snoop anyway. "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".

Apart from Microsoft, WhatsApp, Google and Facebook have integrated the open-source Signal Protocol into their messaging platforms. Especially as video chats - the flagship Skype feature - aren't covered. What would happen if you forget to enter "Private Conversations"?

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