Skype

Skype

Review date: 04/23/2020

Before video chat features came standard on cell phones, there was Skype. The former king of video calls has added features to keep up with the competition – most notably a feature called Meet Now. The new option allows users to quickly join a call just by opening a link on the web. In addition, Skype lets users blur their background for extra privacy, use real-time language translation and unlike some of the other apps on our list, call regular phone numbers. The video chat app is owned by Microsoft these days, which means Skype integrates with services like Microsoft Teams.

What could happen if something goes wrong

Skype has had some privacy concerns in the past, most recently when it came to light that Microsoft, which owns Skype, was allowing its contract workers in China to listen in to Skype calls with no security measures in place. It has since changed this practice, but it is a good reminder that even companies with decent security practices in place can handle your private data and conversations sloppily. Skype has also been around for a while and has been quite popular for a number of years. That's made it a prime target for malware and phishing attacks. Users are able to set up two-factor authentication on Skype, which we recommend doing to help keep that conversation you're having with Grandma from being invaded by some racist troll.

Privacy

What is required to sign up?

Users can sign in with their email or phone number. Skype also recently added a feature called Meet Now that allows anyone to create and share a Skype call without signing up for Skype via a Meet Now link they create on the Skype website.

What data does it collect?

How does it use this data?

How are your recordings handled?

Call recording is available in Skype to Skype calls only and can be as long as 24 hours before being broken into separate files. After the call is complete, Skype saves the call to the cloud and users can download it for up to 30 days.

Alerts when calls are being recorded?

Yes

When a call is recorded everyone on the call is notified.

Does the platform say it is compliant with US medical privacy laws?

No

The regular user version of Skype is not HIPAA compliant. Skype for Business can be HIPAA compliant if the right packages are purchased. Please check with your healthcare provider to make sure the version they use meets all the requirements.

Links to privacy information

Can I control it?

Is it easy to learn and use the features?

Unknown

Skype is fairly simple to use and has an easy to navigate and understand support page to help users learn the features at https://support.skype.com/.

Security

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?

Yes

Encryption

Yes

If you use Skype to call another Skype user, both audio and video of the call are encrypted. File transfers and instant messages are also encrypted. If you use Skype to call a regular phone number – landline or cell phone – that call is not encrypted. Skype does offer an end-to-end encryption option, but it is not on by default.

Strong password

Yes

A strong password is required to login

Security updates

Yes

Skype releases updates around once a month to address bug fixes and various issues

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

Microsoft has a bug bounty program for security vulnerabilities

Privacy policy

Yes

https://go.skype.com/privacy

Updates

Microsoft listened to Skype calls with 'no security' to protect recordings, report says
CNET
A Microsoft effort to improve Skype calls and the Cortana virtual assistant by listening in on user interactions reportedly had "no security measures" in place to protect data. Contract workers in China were able to access recordings via a web app from personal computers in their homes, according to a Friday report in The Guardian.
Is Skype Safe and Secure? What are the Alternatives?
Comparitech
If you use Skype, should you be concerned about your security and privacy? We take a look and investigate some more secure alternatives.
Skype rolls out 'Meet Now' calls that don't need a sign-up or installation
Engadget
With Meet Now, hosts can create and share a free meeting with just three clicks, according to the company. Even the host doesn't need to have Skype installed -- you can start the process from its website right here -- and then invite people either using a simple link or the share button.
The best alternatives to Zoom for videoconferencing
The Verge
If recent news has made you Zoom-hesitant, there are other apps available

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