Security software maker Symantec is hoping to cash in on enterprise customers growing headaches over instant messaging applications, including those freebies popularized by America Online, Google, MSN and Yahoo.
Although corporate messaging systems have long been pitched by companies such as Microsoft and IBM as the best answer to security issues raised by the proliferation of freely available IM software, Symantec said technology executives cant ignore the fact that free applications still reside on the desktops of millions of workers.
To combat the problem, the Cupertino, Calif., company is introducing Symantec IM Manager 8.0, its latest IM and real-time communications management package designed to help secure both types of messaging systems. The product will be available before the end of April, according to Symantec officials.
In addition to fighting the many types of threats being launched over IM networks, including viruses and phishing attacks, Symantec IM Manager 8.0 can help companies deploy and enforce messaging security policies, said company officials. They said the software also promises to help companies working under federal compliance regulations keep a closer eye on information being shared via IM.
John Sakoda, senior director of product management for enterprise messaging at Symantec, said the security threat from IM could potentially be greater than that from e-mail because "many companies have no grasp of what all their employees are doing with IM."
"A lot of people use IM because they know its unmonitored and unsupervised; beyond the initial security issues, theres lots of interesting rich data traversing in IM clients, generally because people know theyre not being watched," said Sakoda.
The former chief technology officer at IMlogic, Sakoda is considered one of the leaders in the rapidly emerging messaging security space. IM Manager 8.0 is the first set of products released since Symantec bought IMlogic for an undisclosed amount of cash in February.
The software package is meant to provide a soup-to-nuts IM security blanket for handling everything from drafting security policies and distributing and enforcing them among employees to capturing all the data people transmit in their messages.
Features include the ability to identify and quarantine malicious attacks aimed at IM users, as well as the capability to turn off the multimedia functions or VOIP (voice over IP) tools available in many public IM platforms. Other functions support compliance with regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Symantec officials said IM Manager 8.0 will be licensed on a per-user basis at $40 per person, including content updates, support and maintenance.