Zone Labs Looks to Secure IM

From bustling business owners to bubbly pre-teens, everyone loves instant messaging (IM), but deep down you know it’s probably not an entirely secure form of communication. To help relieve those concerns, Zone Labs Inc., a company well-known for its security software, today announced the availability of IMsecure Pro.

According to Zone Labs, IMsecure Pro ensures that conversations that take place over popular IM services such as AOL Instant Messenger, MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger are private and secure. Zone Labs reports that IMsecure Pro requires no changes in either your habits or your software and protects PCs transparently from spammers, identity thieves, hackers and other predators lying in wait to exploit vulnerable IM connections.

If you are worried about a hacker getting into your company’s PCs, you are not alone. Zone Labs cites a recent National Cyber Security Alliance study, conducted by America Online, that reported 86 percent of users store sensitive personal information such as credit card numbers, bank account information and social security numbers on their PCs.

None of that, however, is slowing down the IM juggernaut. Ferris Research predicts that instant messaging will grow from 54 million unique consumer users in 2002 to 341 million unique consumers in 2007.

“Instant messaging is quickly becoming equal in importance to e-mail and the telephone,” Frederick Felman, vice president of marketing at Zone Labs, said. “Because instant messaging provides a persistent and direct connection to the outside world, it can be exploited by hackers to gain entry to a PC. IMsecure Pro was built based on Zone Labs’ core philosophy that security must be both powerful and easy to use for maximum protection.”

IMsecure Pro 1.0 offers the following features, according to Zone Labs:

Universal, Client-Independent Protection:

IMsecure Pro is designed to secure the three major IM services — AOL Instant Messenger, MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger. In addition, IMsecure Pro secures third-party clients such as Trillian, EasyMessage, Imici and Meca. Zone Labs reports that IMsecure Pro secures IM protocols rather than specific IM clients’ ports or IP addresses, thereby protecting all IM traffic.

Instant Protection:

With pre-configured Smart Default settings, IMsecure Pro is built to offer out-of-the box protection. A Security Log records IM security events as they occur and displays them in a configurable view so users are aware of IM-related security events that occur on their PCs and can take follow-up actions.

Inbound Threat Protection:

Zone Labs said that IMsecure Pro follows the company’s “guilty until proven innocent” security philosophy, which is designed to protect against both known and unknown IM vulnerabilities. It guards the PC from infiltration by hackers introducing malicious code through invalid messages, buffer overflow attacks or dangerous IM-borne scripts.

Outbound Threat Protection:

ID Lock is built to prevent you from inadvertently sending personally identifiable information such as a social security number, bank account or credit card information. Message Encryption protects IM traffic from being intercepted and read by others so that IM conversations remain private and free from monitoring. IMsecure Pro encrypts IM communication between any two IMsecure Pro-protected client programs that are communicating via the same service (e.g., a Yahoo! Messenger user communicating with a Trillian user over Yahoo!).

Ultimate Control:

IM Lock is designed to provide granular control over IM in the case of misuse, allowing the instant shut down of any or all IM communications in or out of the PC. In addition, Feature Control lets users block specific IM capabilities, including file transfers, voice or video.

IMsecure Pro 1.0 is available for download from the Zone Labs Web site for $19.95, including one year of security updates. In keeping with its practice of providing free versions of its software, Zone Labs also announced the availability of a basic IM security product, IMsecure. IMsecure, Zone Labs reports, offers simple inbound threat protection from buffer overflow attacks as well as Message Encryption for one IM account to protect instant messages from being monitored. IMsecure is free for personal and nonprofit use.

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