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Microsoft Communications Privacy Security

Microsoft Partners with Signal to Bring End-To-End Encryption to Skype (bleepingcomputer.com) 64

Microsoft and Open Whisper Systems (makers of the Signal app) surprised many on Thursday when they said they are partnering to bring support for end-to-end (E2E) encrypted conversations to Skype. From a report: The new feature, called Skype Private Conversations has been rolled out for initial tests with Skype Insider builds. Private Conversations will encrypt Skype audio calls and text messages. Images, audio or video files sent via Skype's text messaging feature will also be encrypted. Microsoft will be using the Signal open-source protocol to encrypt these communications. This is the same end-to-end encryption protocol used by Facebook for WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, and by Google for the Allo app.
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Microsoft Partners with Signal to Bring End-To-End Encryption to Skype

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  • Is it surprising that this is still legal (at least in some countries)?
  • The only question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11, 2018 @04:09PM (#55910147)

    is not if there's a backdoor, but rather, how many backdoors will be present and for whose purposes

  • Hard to believe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jez9999 ( 618189 ) on Thursday January 11, 2018 @04:10PM (#55910153) Homepage Journal

    At a time when so many governments on Earth are scrambling for a way to surveil all communications how likely is it really that Microsoft would being true end-to-end encryption to something like Skype? I bet there's a backdoor.

    • When a government can give you anything you want, it can take everything you have.

      The bigger the government, the more it assumes power unto itself. And the more power it assumes, the less power the governed actually have. And Obama was one of the worst in history, but since he was well loved by the world elites, and the politically correct crowd, they didn't care about surveiling his own citizens. (yes, GWB was bad, patriot act bad)

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Are you fucking kidding me? still peddling this bullshit a year after the fact? You do realize that a republican majority just voted to keep internet spying? 63 dems voted yes, while damn near EVERY republican voted yes.

        • My guess is the NSA has dirt on many of the lawmakers so they get pretty much everything they want.

          If you have been in politics long enough, you most definitely have a closet full of skeletons you don't want to become public knowledge.

          Red or Blue doesn't matter in a surveillance state, the eye watches everyone.

        • I'm actually against the government having any kind of that kind of power. Period. Call it Libertarianism. 4th Amendment was shredded a long time ago, and now is just being shit and urinated upon by everyone. I'm probably more staunch against spying than most liberals are. After all they seem to be enjoying the spying we did on Trump.

          • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

            Technically, a government of the people by the people and of the people, should have all the power. So yes the government should be all powerful but the government should be of the people. What needs to happens is higher up the food chain you go, the less privacy you should be entitled to. At the top, zero privacy, if you want a private life, leave. What is happening is corruption, a government of the elite by the elite and for the elite and protecting their privacy, the evidence of their crimes, whilst inv

    • by sasparillascott ( 1267058 ) on Thursday January 11, 2018 @04:36PM (#55910413)
      The important thing for the surveillers is keeping a running log of who you talk to and when you talk to them and that is still preserved and not encrypted. Having the actual messages is nice, but not nearly as important as knowing who you talk to and when. This is also why Facebook, of all people, allows it on their programs.
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Re "I bet there's a backdoor."
      Recall PRISM? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
      https://www.theguardian.com/wo... [theguardian.com] (12 Jul ‘13)
      "... bought Skype, the NSA boasted that a new capability had tripled the amount of Skype video calls being collected through Prism"
      "'.. routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a "team sport"."
      Enjoy that big brand junk encryption again and again.
  • Yeah, right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dnaumov ( 453672 ) on Thursday January 11, 2018 @04:11PM (#55910159)

    First they DELIBERATELY weaken the Skype architecture to make it easier for various 3-letter agencies to eavesdrop on Skype calls and now we are supposed to trust they have their users best interest on their mind? Yeah, right. Without access to the source code, why would anyone sane consider the implementation to NOT be broken-by-design?

    • Because there's two types of use cases for encryption.

      - Protection from their own government.

      - Protection from everyone else.

      Companies that want their teleconferences protected from everyone else, don't give a shit about the US government snooping on them. They just don't want their private information leaked to China, or other competitors, or prying journalists.

      I mean, fucking duh people. If something "seems insane" maybe it's because you haven't bothered to understand it.

      • Re:Yeah, right (Score:5, Informative)

        by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@NoSPaM.nerdflat.com> on Thursday January 11, 2018 @05:12PM (#55910713) Journal

        Companies that want their teleconferences protected from everyone else, don't give a shit about the US government snooping on them.

        Anyone with even just a vague understanding of how computers work will realize that these two concepts are inherently contradictory. If the US government can eavesdrop, then so can anyone else, with the right know how. Encryption techniques exist, however, where no amount of know-how will actually make it any easier to decrypt... and these are the so-called unbreakable encryptions that law enforcement bitches about every so often, suggesting that they are thwarting law enforcement, and painting companies that utilize such techniques as deliberately working against them.

        The thing that these people fail to realize is that those unbreakable encryptions are also thwarting untold numbers of would-be criminals that would be all too happy to snoop on people's personal and private data if they could... and use it to their advantage, and probably cause measurable harm to innocent parties.

        Even *IF* the government could supposedly be trusted to not actually abuse such backdoors, there's no possible way to keep the bad guys from getting their hands on them, and doing incalculable levels of harm.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It was for China. They wanted to operate in China, so weakened their encryption.

      Now they have found a way to keep China happy. Maybe it only works outside China, maybe they send the keys to the Chinese government.

  • Still more difficulties for law enforcement agencies? There are evil geniuses at Microsoft, too!

  • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Thursday January 11, 2018 @04:13PM (#55910181)

    Microsoft and Open Whisper Systems (makers of the Signal app) surprised many on Thursday when they said they are partnering to bring support for end-to-end (E2E) encrypted conversations to Skype.

    That is a surprise. I had no idea Skype still existed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Oh yeah, it exists, but it isn'ta relevant. In typical Microsoft fashion, once they got their grubby hands on it, it got so bloated it constantly crashed. I uninstalled it on all my computers and smart-phones and switched to Telegram, which has had encryption the whole time.

      captcha: vibrator

  • by bigtomrodney ( 993427 ) on Thursday January 11, 2018 @04:18PM (#55910221)
    You can have the strongest end-to-end encryption you want...it doesn't mean much if you don't know how your private and session keys are handled. It's all down to trusting the vendor that you're supposedly hiding your messages from with "end-to-end" encryption.
  • by HermMunster ( 972336 ) on Thursday January 11, 2018 @05:25PM (#55910845)

    Microsoft has a history of cooperation with the feds. They implemented a centralized server away from p2p in order to at least give the feds access to monitor the Skype network. Signal is true end to end encryption. Efforts to merge the two will simply give the government access to the encrypted communication. Skype is a proprietary piece of software and thus cannot be audited. I've no idea whether Signal has been compromised but I'm leaning in that direction otherwise why else would they be working with a company known to violate their user's privacy and security.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Do these different implementations of Signal protocol interoperate? i.e. can someone with Signal talk to someone else who uses WhatsApp and then presumably someone else who has Skype?
  • Just sad. Most of my friends work or have worked there, and it's sad how they've laid-off their most experienced people to save money. Currently setting up a new OpenVPN server, and it supports great encryption and has since I started using it 15+ years ago! Sad Microsoft can't beat that open source project from well over a decade ago.

  • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Thursday January 11, 2018 @06:08PM (#55911177) Homepage

    which is an open source protocol [wikipedia.org] will we be able to build 100% open source software that interoperates with other Skype users ? I somehow can't see that happening - I would like to be proven wrong.

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      I doubt it. This is Microsoft we're talking about. Its inevitable that they will find some way to "embrace and extend" the protocol to keep it non-standard, or to at least keep open clients off their network. Especially Linux ones.

  • Anyone got any recommendations for software for end to end encrypted VOIP using PC's?

  • is to open-source the entire app.

    • I doubt it'll happen, but at least then someone can have a go a making a decent version of it. I just tried to use it - man it's confusing.

      I know it's 'the done thing' to complain about every app change and re-skin, but Skype is the most confusing communications app of them all. Maybe they make it this confusing so that the feds don't bother to try to use it to snoop on people's conversations...?

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