Risk Posed by Instant Messaging

While Instant messaging is gaining popularity with workers trying to get around the restrictions placed on what they can do with e-mail, few firms subject instant messaging programs to the same scrutiny that e-mail receives to stop spam, viruses or abuse by employees.

A survey by filtering firm Surf Control Survey shows that almost 40% of staff in UK companies are using instant messaging programs while in the office.

“As more companies crack down on misuse of e-mail we have seen people moving more and more towards freer communications such as instant messaging,” said Martino Corbelli.

31% of those questioned turn to instant messaging to send the private messages they would rather did not travel via company e-mail systems. However, more than half of the workers questioned, 51%, said instant messaging could dent productivity as people dealt with messages that kept popping up. Others were worried about viruses arriving via instant message programs (34%) and by offensive content being circulated (6%).

Mr Corbelli said companies had to do more to tackle the potential problems that greater use of instant messaging brought. He said the risks and dangers that emerged with early use of e-mail were happening all over again as use of instant messaging grew. Security strategies to stop viruses could be thwarted by unauthorised use of instant messaging, he said.

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