The lack of action among enterprises over the threat from instant messaging (IM) security breaches presents a good opportunity for the channel, according to analyst firm Gartner.
The market watcher recently revealed that firms who do not manage and protect public IM will experience 80 per cent more IM-related security incidents than those that do.
David-Mario Smith, analyst at Gartner, said a lack of knowledge over the threat provided by IM presents an opportunity for resellers.
“IM networks such as AOL, Yahoo and MSN are fairly widespread in enterprises,” he said. “They bring with them vulnerabilities in terms of viruses and worms. However, a lot of employees use IM to connect with external clients and contacts, so it does have a business benefit as well.”
Smith added that the best approach for firms who use IM would be to either implement an IM hygiene system with a layer of defence, or invest in internal IM programmes that already feature built-in security.
“Previously, companies have just tried to ignore the problem of IM security, but now more firms realise they have to do something about it,” he said. “In most cases they are going to need help and advice over the best solution to implement. This is where the channel comes in.”
According to Symantec’s recent Internet Threat Report, there were more than 300 million IM users (both home and enterprise) in 2005. More than one billion messages were sent every day. The vendor claimed IM traffic is expected to exceed email traffic by the end of 2006.
Ed Blake, director of e-security at VAR Real Solutions, said: “IM traffic is a growing concern and is clearly a risk. A lot of bigger vendors are starting to buy smaller IM security firms and incorporate that technology into their existing offerings. [IM security products] are also a great business tool, but as a pure solution they can be quite a hard sell.”
Blake added that the over-hyping of earlier IM threats has turned a lot of firms away from the technology, and more education on the part of the channel is needed. “Until a real threat actually hits, most firms are adopting a ‘suck it and see’ type of attitude to IM security,” he said.
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