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Issue of November 2005 
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Fast Track

Controlling IM/P2P security breaches

Capt. Felix Mohan

Gartner calls instant messaging (IM) ‘the sleeping giant of the Internet,’ and predicts that 70 percent of employees will use it for business or personal communication in 2005. From a tool for instant message delivery, IM is evolving into a platform that can be a front-end for enterprise applications.

Says Capt. Felix Mohan, Director, SecureSynergy, “More than 70 percent of enterprises have Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing applications running on their networks, and more than 90 percent of Indian organisations have public IM. Imagine the impact it has on CIOs in terms of security issues in uncontrolled messaging, collaboration, and file-sharing networks operating within the enterprise. Add to this the arrival of faster mobile technologies and networks such as GPRS and 3G, which can stream data to smart devices like smartphones and handheld devices; they have ensured that a wider set of devices can be used to access IM.

This also has a bearing on the enterprise. Unmanaged use of P2P file-sharing exposes businesses to serious business risks, including loss of confidential information, viruses, worms, spyware and legal liability. Although enterprises have invested in protecting the network perimeter from external security threats, employees have the ability to easily circumvent security measures with P2P file-sharing services.

The solution should be designed to work not only as a standalone network security and control solution, but also for working in conjunction with IM security and management solutions. In this way, selected users can embrace public IM in a safe, secure, and managed way while at the same time protecting the entire enterprise network from the risks associated with P2P and other unauthorised (and unmanaged) attempts to use public IM.

—VG

 
     
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