New Tools Keep IM Safe for the Enterprise

Commentary: AOL, others release auditing software and high-security platforms that bring IM into the realm of IT

Most of us use some form of instant messaging application, be it AOL, Yahoo or MSN, to keep in touch friends and family.

In the business world, corporate users can use IM as an effective business communication and project collaboration tool. But corporate users beware: IM sessions can now be monitored and audited by new tools and platforms designed to give enterprises better administrative control over IM communications in the workplace.

Without a doubt, IM can increase productivity in financial, sales or tech support environments by providing a time-efficient communication medium. However, IM can also open doors to the public network beyond the corporate firewall, creating security risks. Content control is a difficult task and can cause administrative headaches for IT managers, particularly in financial or government institutions where every form of communication must be documented.

AOL recently announced the AIM Enterprise Gateway, which provides better security and management of AOL Instant Messenger use in enterprise environments.

The AIM Enterprise Gateway will enable IT managers to control feature access, monitor content and maintain message archives. IT managers also will have access to logs and reports generated for auditing message content.

The AIM Enterprise Gateway also provides routing options that keep users intra-company messages within the local network. This helps ensure that corporate communications stay inside the company instead of traveling over the public AIM network.

The AIM Enterprise Gateway acts as a proxy between users within the local network and to the public AIM network, and can support 10,000 users. The AIM Enterprise Gateway supports Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Red Hat Linux 7.1. It supports Microsoft SQL Server 2000 or Oracle 9i for message databases.

Although AOL doesnt currently offer session encryption to provide high-level messaging security, other vendors do. WireRed and OmniPod, for example, provide complete enterprise-class IM platforms for security-conscious corporations. In addition to providing advanced enterprise IM control, WireReds e/pop and OmniPods POD also provides encryption for all IM traffic between users within the company.

Is your company looking to rein in IM or just letting it rip? Let me know at