Instant Messaging Security Still Lags Behind Email

By | January 17, 2006

Email still takes priority over instant messaging (IM) when it comes to corporate security, according to a recent poll conducted by Akonix Systems. 62% of enterprises are secured against potential email threats, but lack IM security protection. Nearly 50% of respondents replied that “an IM hygiene solution never crossed my mind”.

In a recent survey of more than 100 organizations, only 11% reported having IM hygiene solutions in place, compared to 73% with email hygiene. This huge gap between the security applied to email and that applied to IM is particularly alarming since 47% of respondents indicated that the email/messaging organization has responsibility for securing both email and instant messaging.

The results of the survey and the rise in IM viruses may indicate that organizations are still vulnerable to serious IM security risks if they don´t take action. Instant messaging delivers huge productivity benefits, but unlike email, businesses are not protecting their network from its potential dangers.

“Organizations of all sizes need to understand that the nature of IM-borne threats is substantially different than the threats that enter a network through email,” said Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research. “A tool that protects against email threats is critical, but won´t provide adequate protection against the growing array of threats that enter networks through IM clients.”

Globally, instant messaging use is on the rise with nearly 12 billion instant messages being sent every day, according to IDC Research1. comScore Media Metrix2 also reported that there are more than 300 million people worldwide who regularly use IM as a fast and convenient communications tool. As this use continues to grow, so too does the risk of a security breach.

“As the most rapidly adopted communications medium in history, IM has already become an indispensable business tool. Our research shows, however, that the security protection of IM is not keeping up with its adoption. This growing risk to corporate assets and productivity will ultimately elevate the IM security discussion to the boardroom level, where IT management will be expected to explain their inaction,” said Don Montgomery, vice president of marketing at Akonix.

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