Skype announces end-to-end encryption for its platform

12 Jan 2018

Skype launch screen on smartphone. Image: Chonlachai/Shutterstock

Microsoft is partnering with Signal to bring encryption to Skype.

In a new feature to be known as ‘Private Conversations’, Skype will be using encryption technology from Signal, one of the most popular, ultra-secure messaging apps available today.

Signal is the same app that Edward Snowden has consistently recommended for those with privacy worries to download.

In years gone by, many privacy advocates and activists have raised concerns over the true confidentiality of conversations carried out over Skype. Many were surprised at the announcement, given that people had noticed changes in the company’s architecture that allegedly made it less private since it was acquired by Microsoft.

Yesterday (11 January), Skype announced that it would be using the open-source Signal Protocol to implement encryption on its platform, so not even the servers the conversations pass through can pick up on the content of the messages if both users are using it.

Simple and private communication

In a statement, Joshua Lund, a developer at Signal, said: “At Signal, our goal is to make private communication simple and ubiquitous. With hundreds of millions of active users, 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.”

 Forbes reported that the encryption technology of Signal is so strong, it was approved last year for use in the US Senate.

Beta testers only

The Private Conversations feature is currently only available to users who have signed up to be an Insider, beta-testing features and updates before wider release is possible.

Encryption will not be the default setting, however, and privacy-conscious users will have to choose an option to commence a private conversation.

According to Wired, Skype will still be able to see things such as the duration of conversations and when they occur. Private video chats are also not yet a feature of the new update.

Skype launch screen on smartphone. Image: Chonlachai/

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects