Skype is one of the most widely used instant messaging (IM) service in the world. It has more than 300 million monthly users worldwide. Though sharing of messages or files over Skype is secure enough to earn the trust of most people, the proprietary encryption protocol of Skype is somewhat complicated to easily understand. It's never been clear with its privacy and security features. However, that changes big time today as Skype has now implemented end-to-end encryption method for the messages shared through a feature called Private Conversations.
Microsoft, the parent organisation of Skype, announced a partnership with Signal on Thursday to bring end-to-end encryption on Skype. The end-to-end encryption protocol by Signal is already in use by some big names including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Allo and of course, Signal.
"Skype is one of the most popular applications in the world, and we're excited that Private Conversations in Skype will allow more users to take advantage of Signal Protocol's strong encryption properties for secure communication," wrote Joshua Lund, Signal developer.
Private Conversations, the new feature introduced in Skype, currently supports end-to-end encryption for text messages, audio calls and multimedia file sharing. This means video calls, the biggest selling point of Skype, are still only secured by Microsoft's standard not-so-friendly encryption method we talked about earlier. This, however, shouldn't be insuperable as Signal's own app offers end-to-end encrypted video calling. So, we hope Microsoft is working on this too.
The Private Conversations feature is currently available in the latest Skype Insider only. This naturally means the Universal Windows Platform version of the app isn't supported yet. The desktop version of Skype, and its iOS, Android, Linux and macOS clients have the Private Conversations compatible Insider build. Also note that the Private Conversations isn't available by default for any of the builds. This is again something we hope Microsoft to be working upon and be included in public release in the future. At the moment, one has to select "New Private Conversations" from Skype's Compose menu. Also both the users must have compatible Skype Insider for sharing messages privately.