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Enterprises must take security threats posed by IM seriously
It is about time organizations started taking control IT security threats posed to the enterprise via employee use of IM should be taken as seriously as e-mail
ScanSafe offers Managed Security Services (MSS) around the area of managed Web security, rather than the managed e-mail services that most of us are familiar with.
Last week, ScanSafe announced the upcoming April launch of its IM (Instant Messaging) Control service.
Maxine Holt, senior research analyst with independent IT research and advisory organization Butler Group, had a briefing with company.
In Holt’s view, there is most definitely the need to make instant messaging (IM) more secure IM communications have the potential to deliver pretty much any of the unwelcome IT security threats that are common to enterprise e-mail communications. Holt says it is high time firms started taking control and treating them seriously.
IM has grown significantly in use over the past few years, with many IM installations being completely uncontrolled by the corporate IT department. A number of IT departments may say that they already block IM, only to find that someone turns around and says well, I’m still using it.
In its research for the development of the IM Control service, ScanSafe found that the vast majority of organizations are already using one or more of the main IM solutions, and are finding that the use of IM is becoming almost as important as e-mail for its employees, providing significant business benefits.
Thus, many companies do not want to block IM per sé. Many current IM problems exist because of the informal way in which IM usage first arrived into the business arena, with staff making use of IM technology before seeking formal management approval.
Furthermore, it remains the case that many organizations still unofficially allow IM communications to take place without giving enough thought to putting protection and management systems in place to deal with the potential security fallout.
However, there is most definitely the need to make IM more secure IM communications have the potential to deliver viruses, worms, Trojans, and spyware malicious and unwanted content and cause identity intrusion issues.
In fact, pretty much any of the unwelcome security threats that are presented by the enterprise use of e-mail communications also reappear in real-time through the establishment and usage of IM delivery protocols.
Furthermore, IM services also share many of the same regulatory compliance issues. These include the need to monitor for legal and regulatory requirements and common archiving and privacy issues.
The ScanSafe IM Control service, when it is launched at the beginning of April, will support compliance for archiving of IM use this is already undertaken by many organizations in their e-mail systems, but is unfortunately neglected for unregulated IM.
It is about time that organizations stopped being surprised by the level of IM use by its employees and took control of the situation, taking it as seriously as e-mail and other threats to IT security.
Maxine Holt combines her role a senior research analyst with that of research team manager. Her current focus is on services, including service provision, outsourcing and off-shoring.
Butler Group ( is Europe’s leading independent IT Research and Advisory organization. Its mission is to ensure that its clients are the most comprehensively informed IT and business managers on current, emerging and future technology matters, and their impact on business.


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