MessageLabs Sets Sights on IM

Managed e-mail security services provider MessageLabs Ltd. is acquiring enterprise instant messaging vendor Omnipod Inc. to expand its security services beyond e-mail and Web filtering.

Managed e-mail security services provider MessageLabs Ltd. is acquiring enterprise instant messaging vendor Omnipod Inc. to expand its security services beyond e-mail and Web filtering.

In the short term, MessageLabs plans to offer Omnipods hosted IM service, Professional Online Desktop, as a separate service, but in the first quarter of next year the company will integrate its security technologies into Omnipods IM service. By the second quarter of next year, MessageLabs plans to launch a new proxy-based IM security service that will work with other corporate IM clients and that the company will target to compete with offerings from IM security specialists such as IMlogic Inc., FaceTime Communications Inc. and Akonix Systems Inc., said Brian Czarny, vice president of product management for MessageLabs, in New York.

"We initially were looking at building it ourselves or partnering, but Omnipod seemed like a natural fit. They have a managed service like we do, and once we got a good look at them, we saw it was fairly easy to integrate them from a technological perspective," said Czarny.

MessageLabs joins several other e-mail security vendors that have recently jumped into IM. Postini Inc., of Redwood City, Calif., in September extended its hosted security service to include IM security services based on technology licensed from IMlogic. And last month, CipherTrust Inc., of Alpharetta, Ga., launched a new gateway appliance for IM that aims to block message-borne threats before they leave or enter the network.

The trend among messaging security vendors to integrate their tools for e-mail and IM comes as IM security threats are starting to gain more attention among enterprise IT administrators, who, in the past, have mainly focused on e-mail threats. "The latest trends in the last month—and these worms are representative of these trends—is that they will proactively disable anti-virus software," said Jon Sakoda, chief technology officer and vice president of products at IMlogic, in Waltham, Mass.