Skype had the potential to be what WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are now. Video and voice calls were available on Skype, along with texting, years before WhatsApp and Facebook came out with instant messaging services of their own. A lack of features and security kept Skype back and ultimately allowed other apps to take that space back.
One of the best features of WhatsApp has been its end-to-end encryption since day one. This means users have maximum security when texting, sharing files and making voice or video calls. Skype on the other hand, has always been criticized for not being safe and willing to share your sensitive information with authorities if the need arises.
Microsoft owned Skype is still to have a complete roll out of end-to-end encryption. But today is a different day. 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. This means that Skype users may see a complete roll out of end-to-end encryption in the coming days if all goes well.
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This is what Microsoft Support Engineer, Ellen Killbourne, stated in the post:
“We know extra protection is important as you share sensitive information over Skype so we’re excited to announce the preview of end-to-end encrypted Private Conversations, available now for Skype Insiders.
With Private Conversations, you can have end-to-end encrypted Skype audio calls and send text messages or files like images, audio, or videos, using the industry standard Signal Protocol by Open Whisper Systems. The content of these conversations will be hidden in the chat list as well as in notifications to keep the information you share private.
Give it a try by selecting “New Private Conversation” from the compose menu or from the recipient’s profile. After the recipient accepts your invite, all calls and messages in that conversation will be encrypted end-to-end until you choose to end it. You can only participate in a private conversation from a single device at a time. 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.”
The Entire Skype App May Not Be Covered by End-to-End Encryption
According to both the Microsoft announcement and post on the Signal Blog about their partnership, it does not seem that the entirety of Skype will be getting end-to-end encryption. Assuming this is true since both partners are regarding it as a new ‘Private Conversations’ feature instead of giving complete blanket coverage.
This means that you will have to enter into the ‘Private Conversations’ mode with whomever you want to have an encrypted conversation with. Compared to WhatsApp, this really wouldn’t be much of an attraction. WhatsApp users have complete encryption and don’t have to enter any special feature or ‘Private Conversation’ to get that added layer of security. Having to do this every time on Skype would be more of headache than feature. What would happen if you forget to enter ‘Private Conversations’?
Doesn’t seem good at all.
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What do you think about Microsoft and Signal partnering to bring end-to-end encryption to Skype? Let us know in the comments section below!