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Skype is a P2P (Peer to Peer) instant messaging and VOIP (Voice over IP) service – as well as a whole lot more. Whilst most people are aware of Skype, many tend to shy away from it thinking it’s not secure, hard to use and is fraught with dangers.
Whilst that can be true of any Internet based application, used sensibly and setup correctly, Skype is a highly useful tool and no more dangerous than any other IM (Instant Messaging) services out there. In fact, it’s often quite more secure and very easy to use.
Microsoft purchased and took over Skype in May of 2011 for 8.5 Billion dollars. Since then it has been refined and integrated into many other Microsoft products and services. In this newsletter, I’ll try and point out some Do’s and Dont's when using Skype, as well as how it can be utilized to help your company streamline internal communications safely and securely – and the best part is that for basic use, it can be all for free.
Frequent Questions Businesses have about Skype
Q: Will I need to install a camera and microphone to all of my employees desktops?
A: No, Skype will work equally well as an Instant Messaging program without a Web Cam or Microphone attached. You’ll lose some functionality, but can still simply type to each other and exchange files such as internal documents and the like securely and instantly..
Q: Can the chats I have on Skype be intercepted by hackers or eaves droppers?
A: No, not unless your machine has been compromised by a viral infection or malware like a key logger – if that is indeed the case, you have far bigger problems than just worrying about Skype security.
When you connect on Skype, you only use the Skype Server(s) to make the initial connection. Once connected, the server drops out of the equation and you are connected directly with the person you’re communicating with.
All Skype-to-Skype voice, video, file transfers and instant messages are encrypted. This protects you from potential eavesdropping by malicious users. Skype uses the AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), which is used by the US Government to protect sensitive information, and Skype uses strong 256-bit encryption. This effectively means that eavesdropping on communications is almost impossible.
[Note that if you use Skype to make a call from Skype to mobile or landline phones, the part of your call that takes place over the PSTN (the ordinary phone network) is not encrypted.]
Q: Can I make conference calls using Skype?
A: Yes, but not for free depending on your requirements. Conference or large group functionality is part of the “Skype for Business” package. The Free version of Skype is great for smaller businesses of up to 20 employees. It is free to use, unless you want to buy credit to make calls to landlines and mobiles and you can have “audio” calls of up to 25 people using it. For even more functionality, you’ll need to invest in Skype for Business.
Skype for Business lets you add up to 250 people to online meetings, gives you enterprise-grade security, allows you to manage employee accounts, and is integrated into your Office apps. It costs from $2 per month per user.
More information on this aspect of Skype can be found by clicking on this link.. https://www.skype.com/en/business/
Q: What benefits can a business owner get by using Skype?
A: This is limited only by your imagination. For instance.. Looking for new staff member? If you both have Microphone and Web Cam capabilities, you can perform a quick Interview of a prospective employee in no time at all, thus saving having to meet with them in person to get a quick general feel if a person seems suited to your particular organisation.
Q: Will the use of Skype on my Business network slow things down?
A: No, you shouldn’t notice any difference at all. Skype communication is highly compressed and in normal use, very little bandwidth is required, even during voice or video calls.
There are a ton of other benefits to using Skype that are limited only by your own imagination. If you’re finding the Instant Messaging solution you’re using (if you have one at all) is lacking, then Skype could be the answer you’re looking for. Well worth looking into and checking out.
A few Do’s and Dont's when Setting up and/or using Skype
Unless you’re IT savvy, DO obtain professional help when setting Skype up inside your organization. There are a few things to be aware of and an IT professional will help you setup your Skype account(s) in a safe way and warn you of the relatively few things you need to beware of. A good consultant will also be able to provide ideas on how you can utilize this great software to benefit your particular needs.
I could go on about the benefits of this great little utility but that would be beyond the scope of this newsletter and perhaps start to sound like an advertisement.
Please feel free to contact me for additional information, ideas and help in determining how YOU and your organization could benefit from deploying Skype around your entire office.
I hope you found this a useful and interesting read.