Microsoft and Signal Partner to Bring End-to-End Encryption to Skype

End-To-End Encryption
Microsoft is partnering with Signal to provide end-to-end encryption for Skype users. The technology designed to secure messages while in transit.

Signal is currently working with Microsoft to bring end-to-end encryption to Skype users.

End-to-end encryption is a layer of security that is designed to let only the communicating users read the messages sent between one another.

Estimates report that Skype has around 300 million monthly users. Skype’s users will be pleased to know that the popular messaging company is introducing an end-to-end encryption feature provided by Signal Protocol, a cryptographic protocol that’s co-authored by Moxie Marlinspike, the founder of Open Whisper Systems.

Skype and Signal Teaming Up

According to the official announcement, users will be able to make use of the Signal Protocol technology by opting for “Private Conversations,” a new Skype feature that is going to be added in the near future. If you can’t wait for the official release, then you can try this upcoming feature by trying out Skype Insider, a beta version that’s available for download now.

At the moment, there’s no fixed date in place as to when the new feature is going to be integrated into the final build. Only the latest version of the Skype Insider is able to make use of the end-to-end encryption feature. Also, the feature only works if the two users are using the same version. For now, the feature only works on messages; not for group chat or videos.

According to Skype’s plans, the end-to-end encryption feature is not turned on by default. Users must actively opt for the feature by clicking or tapping the “+” icon and then opting for the “Private Conversations” setting. If the other end accepts the invitation, then the end-to-end encryption will kick in. Once the feature is set, two users can enjoy higher levels of privacy.

On the downside, because of the nature of encryption technology, you can’t expect the messages to be “synced” to your other devices and still keep the encryption technology.

Signal’s Encryption Dedication

While almost everyone knows about Skype, the same can’t be said for Signal. At its core, Signal is a software that’s designed for relaying encrypted communications. It’s built for all mainstream operating systems including iOS and Android, as well as desktop systems like MacOS, Linux and Windows.

With Signal’s native app, users can enjoy end-to-end encryption for videos, video calls, voice notes, files, images and messages.

As mentioned above, Skype is only integrating the end-to-end encryption for two users only. Video and group chat encryption may be introduced in the future.

Signal Protocol is originally developed by Open Whisper Systems. The client protocol is published as open source and free under the GPLv3 license. It is only the server code that’s published on the AGPLv3 license.

Security Enhancements

Servers for End-To-End Encryption
According to a recent WikiLeaks data dump detailing the hacking tools used by the CIA, the agency is not yet able to crack Signal or WhatsApp.

Now, it’s worth noting that end-to-end encryption is really not a new thing, and it’s already present in popular messaging apps like WhatsApp, Apple’s iMessage, and FaceTime apps, as well as Facebook Messenger.

But just how secure is end-to-end encryption anyway? According to a recent WikiLeaks data dump detailing the hacking tools used by the CIA, the agency is not yet able to crack Signal or WhatsApp.

As it turns out, end-to-end encryption is very secure for relaying messages. In fact, even the companies that provide the service is not able to read the transmitted messages.

Keep in mind that end-to-end encryption may be secure, but it isn’t fail-proof. This is because end-to-end encryption only protects the messages while in transit. If a hacker or malicious individual gets hold of the device, then obtaining the encrypted messages is possible.

However, this does not mean that the technology fails. Such a scenario is beyond the scope of the software’s responsibility.

Online security is a growing concern for users everywhere. Individuals, small and medium-sized companies, governments, nonprofits and even major corporations are increasingly targeted by crippling cyberattacks.

Everyday users need to protect their personal information to thwart against identity theft. And Microsoft’s decision to add end-to-end encryption to Skype is certainly a great help in making the online world more secure.

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