This is a worrying revelation. Ars Technica has found that the so-called private messages that users send each other on Skype may not be that private, after all. The publication, together with independent privacy and security researcher Ashkan Soltani, made this discovery. 

To carry out their tests, they sent four web links using Skype and while two of these were not clicked on, the two others – one beginning in HTTP link and the other HTTPS – were accessed by a machine with the IP address (it belongs to Microsoft). This led them to conclude that the software giant can not only see the plain text as it is sent from one Skype user to another, but that the company regularly monitors these messages. 

(Image Credit: Getty Images)

Your private messages may not be private after all! (Image Credit: Getty Images)

Matt Green, a professor specialising in encryption at Johns Hopkins University, told Ars Technica: “The problem right now is that there's a mismatch between the privacy people expect and what Microsoft is actually delivering. Even if Microsoft is only scanning links for 'good' purposes, say detecting malicious URLs, this indicates that they can intercept some of your text messages. And that means they could potentially intercept a lot more of them.”

That said, Skype clearly states in its privacy policy that it may take to automated scanning within instant messages and SMS to fish out spam and links to phishing sites and other fraud. Still, it makes the longstanding belief held by security professionals, journalists and human rights activists that the service offers end-to-end encryption, wobble. 

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