IM Presents Multiple Threats, MessageLabs Says

Recent research from Gartner shows that more than 100 million people in the United States are using instant messaging (IM) technologies in one way or another. Additionally, about 70 percent of IM use takes place at the office. Taken together, these statistics spell trouble for many enterprises, said David Hahn, senior product manager of instant messenger service in North America for MessageLabs, a provider of e-mail and IM security solutions.


“Over 80 percent of businesses in North America have IM use in play—in other words, they have some form of IM being used behind their corporate firewalls,” Hahn said. “Only 25 percent of those are using enterprise or secure IM solutions. There’s a significant number of that 100 million that make up those insecure clients.”


There are several IM offerings out on the market today with varying levels of sophistication and security. They also differ in terms of the technical platforms they operate on. Thus, there aren’t really any surefire ways to prevent inappropriate IM use at work. “Corporations who have decided to say no to IM’ing in the organization are having problems,” Hahn said. “You prevent the download of an .exe when installing that client’s desktops by restricting the user’s access rights and so forth. But with the new versions, they’re being passed through the firewall because they look like HTML traffic. There’s this new evolution around IM, and that introduces a whole new level of risk.”


Additionally, most companies are actually very interested in…


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