Instant Messaging: Ready or not, here it comes!

Instant messaging (IM), the ability to immediately communicate with friends and co-workers, has grown into a frequently used and highly productive business tool. The growth of IM use has raised several security-related concerns for many companies. These concerns can be grouped into three categories: eavesdropping, impersonation, and network vulnerability.

  • Eavesdropping: Some IM applications transmit data in clear text. This raises the concern of having messages intercepted by network sniffers. Persons who intercept IM messages can, in turn, make private information public or use the information for unsavory purposes. Encrypting the IM data is the only way to stop message interception.
  • Impersonation: With many IM systems, it is easy to use any display (or screen) name. This creates the possibility for a user to impersonate another. Companies should not allow the IM users to change their display name. Display (and user) name should be assigned.
  • Network vulnerability: Most of the popular public IM services force companies to open firewall ports or route data through their servers. This forces companies to rely on 3rd-parties for their IM capability. This is one way that hackers may be able to penetrate a company’s network or intercept IM data. Providing an IM solution that doesn’t need to leave your firewall minimizes your risk for network intrusion.

Instant Messaging for businesses has arrived and is here to stay. Ipswitch’s Instant Messaging has been designed from the ground up with the concerns of businesses in mind. By choosing an instant messaging solution that has encrypted network traffic, tightly controlled user options, and whose network traffic remains within the corporate firewall, network administrators can rest well at night knowing their IM infrastructures are secure.

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