Signal partners with Microsoft to bring end-to-end encryption to Skype

Microsoft Starts Testing Private Conversations Feature in Skype

Skype users can start a Private Conversation by tapping on the + icon followed by New Private Conversation.

Microsoft is rolling out to Skype Insider testers a preview of the coming end-to-end encrypted private conversation feature. 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. The content of these conversations will be hidden in the chat list as well as in notifications to keep the information you share privately. The feature is powered by the Signal Protocol.

Skype's Private Conversations feature is based on the open-source Signal Protocol and offers several unique features, including device-specific threads and more. 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.

For the time being, Private Conversations are available for Insiders using Skype version for iOS, Android, Linux, Mac, and Windows Desktop.

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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. Private Conversations can only be between you and one other contact. End-to-end encryption means not just the communication channel is secure but the messages stored on servers can only be read by those involved in the communications. You can not pick up a Private Conversation from a different device; you will have to repeat the process from the very beginning.

Signal is an open source project now found in WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Google Allo.

The Skype version under testing right now does not support E2E encryption with Skype video calls or group chats. A lock icon will appear next to a contact's name to show that a conversation is encrypted. Encrypted conversations are locked to the device they are started on.

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

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