How secure is Instant Messaging?

Wednesday, 28 August 2002, 1:01 PM EST

Companies that wouldn't dream of conducting business through public, Web-based e-mail now worry that employees are sending unrestricted messages on public programs from AOL, MSN, and Yahoo.

Business users will make up nearly half of the 506 million IM users expected online by 2006, say IDC researchers. As business use increases, corporate network managers shudder at trying to control data traveling over public IM networks. Because users can activate IM themselves, IT doesn't know who sees sensitive data. Also, virus writers have begun to explore public IMs as a new way to spread their pests.

Still, IM's convenience and popularity is prompting businesses to determine how to implement the technology safely and to seek services that provide the desired security.

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