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Skype set to introduce encrypted chats

(Image credit: Image Credit: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock)

Microsoft is bringing end-to-end encrypted conversations to Skype (opens in new tab) which will allow users to keep their sensitive business and personal communications private. 

The company will use Open Whisper Systems' secure messaging technology also found its own Signal app to protect the communications of Skype users from being intercepted by third parties.  

Joshua Lund from Open Whisper Systems announced Signal's new partnership with Microsoft in a blog post (opens in new tab), saying: 

“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.” 

For the time being, only users enrolled in the Skype Insiders early access program will be able to take advantage of the new Private Conversations feature though it will likely be available for general users at a later date. 

While the new feature will allow users to participate in encrypted conversations, there are some limitations.  Only two individual users will be able to utilise Private Conversations and the feature does not currently support group conversations. 

Skype Insiders can try out the new feature by selecting New Private Conversation and choosing a contact.  This will create a new encrypted chat and send an invitation to the other user.  These invitations will only be valid for  seven days and will need to be resent after that if the other user in a Private Conversation fails to accept. 

After accepting an invitation, users can have a private chat though each Private Conversation is locked to a specific device and users will not be able to switch to another PC or mobile device in the middle of the conversation.

Microsoft noted that the new feature will only support files, audio messages and emoticons.  Users will also be unable to edit their private messages after they have been sent. 

Adding encrypted communications to Skype makes a great deal of sense as many enterprise users rely on Microsoft's messaging platform throughout their work days and this feature could help prevent users from straying from the company's ecosystem to another secure chat app (opens in new tab)

Image Credit: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock

After getting his start at ITProPortal and then working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches to how to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.