AddWit Secure Messenger for online collaboration and interaction between virtual teams
Most of us are used MSN or Yahoo messenger every day without considering that all our connections and conversations are most likely monitored and even recorded. To “protect” people, Britain has been openly building a huge system to store and access logs of all communications from phonecalls to web browsing - while other countries are doing even worse, just not always so openly. Web and telecoms operators “spy” users to make more money, or simply remove the security to save in costs: e.g. the Mobile Data Association recently presented a database of every single mobile call made and SMS message sent since 2002 for Direct Marketing purposes; while Vodafone a few months ago removed the encryption of mobile banking transactions made by millions of users because it would have increased the cost of their new mobile web systems.
That is why big companies either forbid users to use web-based Instant Messaging services, or build their own private ones. But enterprise apps are expensive - for example Microsoft’s Office Communications Server OCS costs $ tens of thousands and needs several servers to run it. So the rest of us have to resort to snail-mail or whispers at the back of a dark bar to have any privacy.
Luckily, there are developers out there who can develop secure products which are as good if not better than those from Microsoft and other big vendors - without the need for one to be Goldfinger to buy them.
One of these is AddWit TeamMessenger which has its own MSN-like messenger “client”, plus a “server” application that runs on an ordinary Windows computer - and between them, the strongest encryption that is possible today with Windows communications. Just run the simple setup, and that old XP box in the corner becomes your own secure messaging switchboard.
Like most of today’s IM applications, TeamMessenger supports file sharing, multimedia (sound and video) delivery, contact list with photos etc. It doesn’t make international phone calls like Skype will do though, or desktop sharing like conference applications - these would be nice features to add. But for Team interaction and collaboration tool, it worked really well. Some of the features such as tabbed conversations are novel improvements compared to “pop-up” sessions like in MSN or Yahoo!
TeamMessenger also provides offline notes and “traffic lights” showing people’s availability and whereabouts - must-haves for business users. Perhaps in the next version they could also make them appear on my mobile phone address book? Rumours are that some well-known phone makers are busy testing such “online presence indication”
The developer of TeamMessenger is a Microsoft Gold Partner, and the program has passed seven Microsoft tests so compatibility with Vista and other Microsoft products should not be a problem. Nothing for Linux users unfortunately.
TeamMessenger server is free for up to three users (“clients”) and for bigger teams, license bundles are available from 10 to 1000 users at between $5 - $9.99 per user. So the cost should not be a problem if you need to have your own, secure messaging system that can keep a secret.