Less than 10 percent of Instant Messaging installed by IT staff

Still a consumer driven phenomenon

While half of the Australian workforce are using Instant Messaging (IM), less than 10 percent use it as an enterprise solution that is installed by IT staff.

According to research released last week by Gartner, enterprise-grade IM adoption will rise from its current 25 percent to nearly 100 percent by the end of the decade.

However, IM remains a consumer-driven phenomenon that has locked out IT staff.

ARD Consulting IT manager, Eric Biggsley, has avoided installing IM because managing e-mail already occupies too much time.

As a result, Biggsley, is considering using a managed service to offset time spent managing malware problems and spam.

"Im not sold on the benefits of IM at this stage and agree it is very much a consumer driven technology," he said.

"In a couple of years I may review this decision and reconsider, but definately not in the immediate future."

MessageLabs marketing director, Andrew Antal, said IM represents a largely unregulated hole in the messaging firewall that is usually installed by the user.

"Our research shows that in Australia over 60 percent of workers use or have used IM at some time and that over 50 percent of these workers use a consumer rather than an enterprise solution," Antal said.

"Yet 75 percent of the respondents also admitted IM is a potential security and compliance risk, while even more worryingly 25 percent didn't think there was any risk."

As a result the number of IM threats continue to rise. Antal said business needs to understand there is no point being 85 percent protected.

Gartner has described IM adoption similar to the take-up of e-mail in the early 1990s.

"The immediacy and informality of IM, which is a big advantage for users, is a disadvantage when it comes to the spread of IM-borne viruses," Antal said.

"Viruses can easily penetrate and propagate within a network by being attached to an IM attachment or being an embedded link which IM users are likely to click."

IT managers are advised to conduct an audit of IM use in the workplace, publish a usage policy, educate staff on potential risks and consider installing a secure IM client.

The growth in security threats has led to greater business acceptance of outsourcing, according to John Killian, president of Verizon Business.

He said today Verizon's hosted services offering is managing more than 250,000 customer communication devices around the world.

"Our global networking, security and hosting business has reached a milestone managing more than 3,700 customer networks in 142 countries," Killian said.

"This is because business acceptance of outsourcing has reached new heights."

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