FaceTime Combats IM Threats

The vendor will bolster its IM management tools with new technology aimed at helping businesses stop IM security threats more quickly.

FaceTime Communications this week will bolster its IM management and security tools with new technology aimed at helping businesses stop IM security threats more quickly.

FaceTime Communications Inc.s Day Zero Defense System, which works with instant messaging systems including AOL Instant Messenger, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and Google Talk, assesses criteria such as message frequency, content matching and URL identification to stop threats.

IT administrators can configure their own threshold levels and policies for blocking, logging and alerts, as well as set policies that require IM senders to confirm that a URL sent in a message is legitimate.

For example, if a message containing a URL appears to come from a user, that user could receive a query asking if the user intended to send that URL and to answer a simple question, such as "What is 1+1?" Once the user responds, the legitimate message is sent to the recipient.

FaceTime has already incorporated this question-and-response approach in its tools to fight SPIM (spam over IM), said Jonathan Christensen, vice president of products and chief technology officer for FaceTime, in Foster City, Calif.

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The Day Zero Defense System will be available both in FaceTime Enterprise Edition and IMAuditor products. FaceTime also offers a perimeter gateway appliance, RTGuardian, that can be used in conjunction with IMAuditor.

"The new types of exploits were seeing that are difficult to defend from an IT perspective are the exploits that are out before anti-virus vendors have the chance to prepare their defenses," said Krysia Jacobs, vice president of technical services for the Chicago Stock Exchange, which uses both IMAuditor and RTGuardian.

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"We are basically left with trying to block sites theyre coming from or block attachments. It gets really difficult if the message contains only a URL of a Web site, and only by going to the Web site would the user pick up the malware."

IM threats have surged in the past year, but there is some evidence that the threats may be leveling off, said FaceTime officials.

FaceTimes Security Labs recorded more than 1,300 new IM and peer-to-peer incidents for the first three quarters of 2005, an increase of more than 2,000 percent from the number it recorded for the same period last year. But the frequency of those threats remained relatively flat from the second quarter of this year to the third quarter of this year, said FaceTime officials.

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