Security

Microsoft to Add End-to-End Encryption on Teams Calls in July 2021

By Bill Toulas / June 4, 2021

Microsoft Teams will get an end-to-end encryption option for the one-on-one VoIP calls in July 2021. This is according to a new entry on the roadmap that is published on Microsoft’s website, so it’s officially currently under development. This was promised by Microsoft back in March, so it looks like the tech giant is looking to keep that promise for the first half of 2021. Of course, roadmaps aren’t binding, but we wouldn’t expect significant delays in the roll-out since the feature being worked on.

Microsoft Teams is one of the products that saw its userbase and scale of deployment growing massively during the COVID-19 pandemic and the “work from home” movement that it brought. Getting it E2EE encryption treatment was almost ineluctable, as it is nowadays considered a standard privacy and security-preserving feature that cannot be omitted by any communications platform. Zoom, which had a similar growth trajectory for the same reasons, moved a lot quicker and was even “forced” to make E2EE available to everyone, including freeloaders.

The new option will be toggle-able through the software’s settings, but it has to be set to “on” by both participants of the VoIP call in order to work as intended. If this prerequisite is met, the calls will be encrypted - inevitably, it also means some features like recording or transcribing won’t be available. This happens for technical reasons, as end-to-end encryption means that Microsoft (and any potentially eavesdropping in-betweener, for that matter) won’t be able to “see” the contents of the communication in a readable form.

Source: MSPowerUser

Of course, it is important to point out that Teams is proprietary software, so it is not sharing the technical details of what metadata it holds. Also, Teams relies on a centralized data system, so Microsoft controls both ends, and the metadata (not contents of communication) are decrypted on the company’s servers. We are not saying that it is enough to compromise the users' privacy, but we should point out that E2EE isn’t enough on its own when implemented in the context of centralized and closed-source products.

Whatever the case, if you are a Microsoft Teams user, you should set E2EE to on in July, when the new feature will become available. The roll-out will take place in stages, starting early in July and being completed by mid-July.



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