Gartner: Businesses must address IM security

Businesses must address the security issues around instant messaging (IM) as it becomes the preferred method of real-time communication, Gartner said today.

The IT analysts predict that by the end of 2011, IM will be the “de facto” tool for voice, video and text chat with 95 per cent of workers using it as their preferred method for real-time communications by 2013.

IM systems are increasingly becoming an integral part of a company’s collaboration infrastructure and are displacing other forms of communication, such as telephone calls and emails, according to Gartner.

“Although consumer IM use has been predominant in business, we expect penetration levels for enterprise grade messaging to rise from around 25 per cent currently to nearly 100 per cent by the end of the decade,” said David Mario Smith, research analyst at Gartner.

The research company have compared the growing uptake of IM to the deployment of email in organisations in the early 1990s.

“The business benefits that messaging can bring are considerable,” added Smith. “The ability to connect people in disparate locations by text, voice and video in one application is incredibly powerful and is equally well suited to an informal ‘water cooler’ atmosphere as well as more formal group communications.”

But, Smith also warned of the dangers of enterprise-grade IM. In particular the potential for archived conversations to be tampered with, leading to company policy breaches and legal disputes.

He also said that it is increasingly being used as a vehicle to quickly disseminate critical information to the entire company, groups of users or individuals, and therefore organisations must find appropriate software to secure it.

This is confirmation of a trend that we’ve been watching with our customers over the past several years,” said Frank Cabri, vice president of Marketing and Product Management for FaceTime Communications.  “The realisation that presence-based applications such as IM, Skype, and Web conferencing can deliver real collaboration and productivity value to employees, but, like any communications medium, they can also introduce business risks such as inbound malware, information leakage and regulatory non-compliance.“

 

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