Instant Headache

Tuesday, 6 August 2002, 12:37 PM EST

Anyone who's ever seen an America Online commercial has seen the little pop-up instant message (IM) window carrying a real-time message to someone on the Internet. What most people don't know is that IM and other peer-to-peer (P2P) applications carry tremendous security risks and, by their very nature, undermine the security precautions taken by many enterprises.

The saving grace, many believe, is that IM is a home-based app used by teenagers, homemakers and lonely middle-aged men. At least that's what Jeff Klein thought when he first set out to control IM traffic at his company, Sorrento Networks. He suspected that 10 of the company's 200 employees were using IM apps. Much to his surprise, the actual number was six times higher.

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