Companies have been advised to control employees' use of instant messaging rather than blocking it outright.


A new guide to securing instant messaging is the latest in the ‘Securing Social Media' series of guides from Network Box, and claims that companies are increasingly finding that their employees are often using instant messaging for a business reason such as customer contact, or contact with remote teams.


However Network Box claimed that many instant messaging services are not secure, and so IT managers should control which services are used and secure them effectively.


Simon Heron, internet security analyst at Network Box, claimed that employee education is the most important factor in securing instant messaging. Heron said: “We need to go through a similar education process with employees as for spam email.


“Broadly, the messages for employees are: only use the service approved by your IT department, don't trust anyone you don't know, don't click on shared links, keep your personal details to yourself, log out when you've finished, and keep your IM service and anti-virus systems up to date.”


The guide advises on the agreement of an instant messaging platform, whether employee access will be granted and ensuring that it is updated and secure.


It also claims that messaging should be monitored, stating: “It is important to ensure employees understand that this is a company system, in the same way that the telephone or email systems belong to the company. Instant messaging shouldn't be abused by employees any more than email or telephone should be. Set clear guidelines as to what instant messaging use is acceptable.”