Microsoft Finally Brings Encrypted Conversations to Skype

Posted on January 11, 2018 by Brad Sams in Microsoft Consumer Services, Skype with 8 Comments

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. Starting today, Skype is testing out a new feature called Private Conversations that delivers end-to-end encryption to your chats.

The encrypted communication channel works for both audio and text messages and files as well but not video calls. Microsoft is using the Signal Protocol by Open Whisper Systems to secure the data and for now, you can only use this feature with contacts that are participating in the Skype Insider Preview.

If you do start a Private Conversation, the contents of those chats will be hidden from the chat list and notifications will be turned off as well.

On one hand, this is an excellent new feature for Skype but on the other, why did it take so long to arrive? Many other chat services have offered this functionality for some time and further, they encrypt all chats not just one specific type of conversation.

This is a good start for Skype but what I do hope to see is that they make all messages and audio calls encrypted by default rather than being opt-in. Seeing as it is in beta today, this may become a reality but Microsoft has yet to acknowledge if they will go down this path.

Private Conversations are available now to Skype Insiders using Skype version for iOS, Android, Linux, Mac, and Windows Desktop.

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Comments (8)

8 responses to “Microsoft Finally Brings Encrypted Conversations to Skype”

  1. arknu

    Now, if they would just make Skype reliably deliver a message when you send it (and notify at the other end), that would be great. These days, I have to send a text message to make sure that my Skype message got through.

  2. jhoff80

    Damn. If only new Skype on Android wasn't such a disaster (bad UI, but also it removed useful features to instead give a bunch of Snapchat garbage) compared to previous versions so I could actually try this.

    Overall though, it's kind of crazy to me that it's not available in some sort of UWP preview since they're pushing everyone to that.

    But also, I agree. When this goes live it should be on for all messages by default.

  3. gregsedwards

    Sweet! Now I can finally join ISIS!

  4. IanYates82

    My guess is that they won't encrypt by default as that would break the browser integration for messages appearing in onedrive, etc

    Nice that they have it at least. I wonder how they manage the encryption keys. Whatsapp manages them for you but won't notify, by default, if a rekey happens. Signal on the other hand is fairly explicit about such events.

    It's nice to see investment in Skype but they left the refresh far too late and have lost a lot of mindshare despite having almost the entire market at one stage. Sound familiar? ?

  5. gvan

    To probably took a while to design the NSA back door

  6. mariusmuntensky

    :)) like it matters. Stopped using Skype two years ago. Compared to other solutions it's a complete junk.

  7. tobiaalberti

    I find this article to be unclear and misleading. Starting with the title.

    All Skype conversations have been encrypted for some time now, as have been conversations on services like Facebook Messenger and Telegram.

    The news here is that Microsoft on top of that will be adding an opt-in feature that will give Skype users the ability to have end-to-end encrypted conversations as well.

    The difference between encryption and end-to-end encryption in this case is (put it simply) the following:

    Encrypted conversations are not really private because Microsoft and other parties have the ability to access them, while end-to-end encrypted conversations (if implemented correctly) are more secure because only the people involved have the keys needed to decrypt them.

    I find your article to be misleading because (starting with the title) it makes it seem like Skype conversations are not currently encrypted (which is not true), and I find it to be unclear because it mentions end-to-end encryption one time at the beginning and then it keeps referring to it as simply "encryption", offering no way of clearly knowing when you're referring to what Skype already has and when you're referring to what Skype will offer in the future.


  8. Winner

    Skype was peer to peer encrypted before Microsoft took them over.

    So are they just putting back what they had? Probably with an NSA backdoor, since it's proprietary and nobody can examine the code.