Detect and Block IM � for Free

By Dan Muse | Posted September 15, 2004
Big corporations aren't the only companies that need to worry whether their employees are using instant messaging applications. If you own an SMB and have enough employees to the point that you're not sure what programs everyone's using, you need to wake up and pay attention.

Businesses that think their employees aren't using IM or some type of peer-to-peer file sharing application may be living in ignorant bliss. In fact, market research firm The Radicati Group reports that 80 percent of enterprises have employees using IM or P2P software. However, only 15 percent have taken steps to secure and manage those applications.

Enter IMlogic, a Waltham, Mass.-based IM management software provider. The company recently announced IM Detector Pro, free downloadable software designed to detect and block unmanaged IM, P2P and VoIP activity.

IMlogic decided to offer the software at no charge because "the industry is not taking a proactive role," says Dave Fowler, the company's vice president of marketing and strategic alliances. "We are finding that when we talk to corporations, they don't really have their arms around IM. Some have it blocked at the firewall and think they're protected. However, IM vendors have figured out ways around the network."

An IM Traffic Cop
IM Detector Pro lets a business discover who is using an IM or P2P application and then decide if they want to allow it or block it. Of course, there's also a third option for companies that don't want to ban IM outright, but prefer to control its use "We can manage it for them. That's what we sell," Fowler says, referring IMlogic's IM Manager software.

Using a wizard-based process, IMlogic reports that network or IM managers, can install the free IM Detector Pro with just a few mouse clicks. The software then offers a snapshot view of each employee's IM and P2P file-sharing activities.

An IM gateway server, such as IMlogic's for-pay product, is designed to manage both public and internal IM traffic. IM Manager competes with products such as Akonix's L7 Enterprise and FaceTime's IM Auditor.

Nate Root, an analyst at Boston-based Forrester Research, points out that the application has been part of IMlogic's platform. "It was called IM Detector. Now they're calling it IM Detector Pro and they have added a few features to it. It's also been part of their competitors' product, only FaceTime and Akonix charge for it," he said.

"It's a good way to get a little press," Root says, referring to the recent announcement. But he adds that IMlogic is playing a much-needed role: educating companies about the reality of IM. "Many have no idea how much IM is used. They haven't put two and two together yet. If IM Logic can give them proof, they can sell a lot more of their products — and their competitors can sell a lot more, too."

Why Worry About IM?
Fowler says that companies express three concerns when it comes to IM and P2P applications:

  • They're worried about viruses and worms getting into the network.
  • They're concerned with employees possessing materials that thecompany doesn't think they should have (e.g., music, DVD content and so on obtained through applications such as Napster or Kazaa).
  • They want to ensure they are complying with corporate governance policies, which may require auditing and logging all communications. For example, federal acts such as Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA require that corporate e-mail and "similar" communications be archived.

Some companies may be concerned about IM for productivity reasons due to the prevalence of personal conversations. However, Fowler says, many businesses see IM use -- even on a personal basis -- as a productivity enhancement. For example, he said, some people may use it to talk to their kids to make sure they're home after school. The alternative to using IM is that they pick up the phone, which is more expensive and more time-consuming.

IMlogic is also making IM Detector Pro available to security ISVs, value-added-resellers and managed service providers in its Partner Connect program. The program allows strategic partners to market, sell and support IMlogic technologies within their solutions and services.

Adapted from instantmessagingplanet.com.

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