As IT administrators start to pay more heed to instant messaging usage in the enterprise, vendors in the e-mail security space are extending their technologies to IM.
CipherTrust Inc., based in Alpharetta, Ga., this week becomes the latest player to enter the IM security race with the launch of its new IronIM appliance. IronIM, like CipherTrusts IronMail for e-mail, is a gateway appliance that aims to block message-borne threats before they leave or enter the network.
IT administrators can set policies at the company level or group level to block viruses and spam, log traffic, monitor IM usage, and encrypt IM communications.
IronIM supports consumer IM products from America Online Inc., Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc. and Google Inc. as well as corporate IM offerings such as Microsofts Live Communications Server and IBMs Lotus Sametime.
While IM-borne threats still pale in comparison to the number of e-mail threats, the rise of IM threats has surged in the past year. For example, IM security and management software provider IMlogic, in Waltham, Mass., last week warned of a new worm spreading through AIM (AOL Instant Messenger). The worm, dubbed Treba, spreads through a users buddy lists and prompts users through a short message to open a malicious URL that will download a copy of the worm or other malware.
The ease with which these worms can spread is causing administrators to take notice.
"We like the hardened appliance approach. Its worked well for us with e-mail security," said Charlie Gautreaux, server administrator for Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Co., in Charlotte, N.C., which uses CipherTrusts IronMail appliance for e-mail.
"I think most companies have gotten a decent handle on e-mail security, and IM security is already becoming an issue as more companies adopt IM standards," said Gautreaux.
"Its now the way e-mail was in 1995; its gone from a cute toy to the next mission-critical application," said Franklin Warlick, senior messaging engineer for Cox Communications Inc., in Atlanta.
Cox also uses CipherTrusts IronMail appliance and is currently testing IronIM. Especially helpful for Cox was the ability to apply the same policies it uses for e-mail to IM, said Warlick.
IronIM is available now. Pricing starts at $5,995.