IM'ers get a secure chat room

Monday, 17 June 2002, 1:54 PM EST

It's probably a good guess that a lot of what's said on instant messaging software is pretty trivial, neither vital to national security nor tightly held business secrets -- mostly office gossip, diet tips, celebrity news, and emotion-addled sweet nothings whispered to your sweetie.

But IM is "maturing," according to Chris Matteo, the president of IMpasse Systems, and many people are now using commercial IM software to do serious business. This trend worries some companies, as nothing said over IM is very private. Not only do instant messages travel freely over the Internet, like e-mail, but they're also explicitly routed through the servers of the company that provides the service -- and who knows what can happen there?

This situation prompted Matteo to create an application that encrypts conversations between chatters, making the chat unintelligible to those who might be listening in. The software, called IMPasse, sits on a machine alongside AOL Instant Messenger, MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger -- the three biggest chatting apps. With IMPasse, any conversation or portion of a conversation can be quickly scrambled. Both parties to a chat need the software; IMPasse charges $20 for two licenses.

[ Read more ]

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