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Using Secure Instant Messaging in the Workplace

written by: Steve Mallard•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 5/7/2010

Instant messaging can be risky. Instant messaging - or IM - can take away from productivity by enabling workers to chat with friends and expose the business to viruses, malware and SPIM.

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    Secure Instant Messaging

    Many business find that instant messaging can help with the collaboration of ideas and make employees more productive. With this in mind, instant messaging natively is unsecure. Instant messaging can take away from productivity by importing buddy list (personal friends), viruses, malware, send non encrypted messages that should be secure and are subject to SPIM (Equal to SPAM ) and other malicious activity.

    Businesses wishing to use instant messaging should look at alternative solutions that use encryption and limit lists of users to ensure productivity. This series investigates solutions for business who need instant messaging.

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    The Importance of Security

    Instant messaging is just that. Communication that takes place instantly. This professional version of chatting allows groups such as accounting or sales to collaborate on current or future projects. This collaboration can reveal information about your company that could jeopardize productivity, assets and even contracts with clients. Security through TLS or AES security ensures your company can protect their data. While there are many vendors on the internet, this series explores options for instant messaging.

    With 'sniffing' software available and instant messaging that is unsecure, companies that are large enough to use instant messaging are at grave risk if they elect not to secure their messaging capabilities.

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    Message Labs Instant Messaging

    Message Labs Instant Messaging (a part of Symantec) offers a secure instant messaging solution that allows this service to be totally secure. Collaboration is not just a buzz word. Collaboration allows multiple users the ability to be more productive through real time communication. With Message Labs, the software is easy to install and can be used outside of your business network. Many IT managers are worried about installation of additional hardware. Message Labs does not require this type of setup. Message Labs is a software that interconnects whoever you want and prevents the download of personal IM lists, viruses and other malicious activities and software.

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    Softros LAN Messenger

    Another solution that keeps messages totally in house is Softros LAN messenger. This messaging software is an intra-office application that allows for instant communications. Because Softros is a software installation, it works on individual workstations and offers the advantages of many of the IM features including group and offline messaging. This LAN software solution offers AES encryption ensuring your messaging is encrypted and cannot be read by malicious users.

    The next part of this series will look at the installation and comparison of secure instant messaging services.