New Tool Helps Secure IM, P2P

By Dennis Fisher  |  Posted 2002-06-10

Responding to the overwhelming popularity of instant messaging and peer-to-peer file sharing programs, a San Diego, Calif. startup later this month will roll out a platform designed to monitor and secure the protocols these programs use.

Akonix Systems Inc. on Monday announced the pending availability of its L7 platform. The system works by monitoring the traffic to and from IM and P2P clients on a corporate network and enforcing pre-determined company policies.

The software uses protocol adapter sets, each of which is able to monitor and translate a specific type of protocol. All of the activity is then stored and reported to the administrator.

The L7 software includes a built-in virus-scanning engine which stops infected files at the network perimeter.

P2P programs such as Kazaa have been the focus of much attention in the security community lately. The software, which is used by millions of people to trade music, movies and other media files, last month was the target of a worm called Benjamin.

Although the worm did not damage infected machines, it spread quite quickly, pointing up the security problems with P2P networks.

IM is little better. IM traffic tunnels through firewalls, which is one reason why IT departments in some companies are banning the software.

When L7 debuts at the end of June, the platform will have the ability to monitor the protocols used by all of the major IM clients. Support for P2P programs will come later this summer, company officials said.

This is the first product release for Akonix, a two-year-old privately held company.

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