Worms crawl toward instant messaging

Tuesday, 28 May 2002, 10:16 AM EST

Instant messaging applications make it easy to chat in real-time with friends and coworkers, or even to meet new people online. Without proper protection, however, IM users make tempting targets for hackers intent on stealing personal information or corrupting PCs for evil purposes.

Security experts say the potential threat is real and growing every day with the skyrocketing use of IM programs from America Online, Microsoft, and Yahoo. As of April, those vendors served a combined total of more than 111 million unique home users in the United States, says Jupiter Media Metrix. That's up from a combined total of 98.6 million unique U.S. users last October.

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