Instant messaging focuses on security

Trying to prove that instant messaging (IM) technology can live up to strict corporate communication standards, vendors unveiled a slew of offerings designed to bolster IM security here at the IM Planet Conference and Expo.

FaceTime Communications Inc. teamed with Santa Clara, Calif.-based Network Associates Inc.'s McAfee security division to integrate antivirus scanning technology into FaceTime IM products. The agreement provides network-independent antivirus protection to corporate IM users by enabling scanning of all incoming IM attachments, according to FaceTime officials.

"Enterprises need centralized control of IM and antivirus [protection] on a server basis," said Glen Vondrick, president and CEO of Foster City, Calif.-based FaceTime. Integration of antivirus scanning technology into IM applications "is the natural next step," he said.

The integration allows IT administrators to shut down unauthorized network access or block file transfers, Vondrick said. FaceTime's IM Director line of products interoperates with major IM products from companies including America Online Inc., Microsoft Corp., IBM, Yahoo Inc. and Reuters.

Also at the show, San Diego-based Akonix Systems Inc. rolled out an IM security gateway designed to terminate rogue IM sessions. The Akonix L7 Gateway Version 1.1 includes a real-time enforcer capability that blocks public IM sessions that attempt to bypass the gateway, according to Akonix officials. The enforcer technology can detect all public IM communications and manage sessions according to corporate policy. The Akonix L7 1.1 also provides an option to integrate with Redwood City, Calif.-based Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.'s VPN-1/FireWall-1 and additional management capabilities, such as content pattern detection, language filter and external user disclaimer messages.

Meanwhile, Endeavors Technology Inc. in Irvine, Calif., showed its forthcoming Magi Secure IM product, which is designed to authenticate, encrypt and audit instant messages and file attachments, regardless of user location. The product's transparent desktop proxy technology enforces corporate access rights, thereby blocking or flagging nonauthenticated IM users, according to Endeavors officials. Magi Secure IM also creates secure user groups, which can be linked to a corporate directory. In addition, the product taps existing utilities in public IM clients to automatically link the default desktop virus-checking application to detect infected rogue attachments.

Also targeting security, St. Louis-based Asynchrony Solutions Inc. introduced Envoke, a secure messaging and presence platform that was developed as a research project within the U.S. Department of Defense. Envoke was designed with the government's strict security specifications in mind, featuring encryption, secure file transfer and authentication. The system allows users to authenticate against the Envoke database, Windows NT domains or Lightweight Directory Access Protocol.

Envoke can create a bridge to other collaboration systems within an enterprise by allowing users to see Lotus Sametime Calendar Events, Microsoft NetMeeting Conferences and CuSeeMe chat rooms from their Envoke client, according to company officials. Envoke also provides cross-platform support -- including Linux, Windows and Solaris -- and fault tolerance and scalability through federated servers that can be geographically dispersed.

Another vendor on hand at the show, Communicator Inc. in White Plains, N.Y., unveiled an upgrade to its Communicator Hub IM enterprise service. Hub IM features unified identity management, controlled access to content and applications, integration with corporate directories, and auditing features. Version 3.5 adds a multiperson discussion channel feature dubbed Forums. The Forums capability provides long-term electronic meeting places that allow IM users to create and continue online, multiperson discussions over extended periods of time. Other features in Hub IM 3.5 include the ability to filter contacts by status and control how information is displayed in a message.

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More about America OnlineCheck Point Software TechnologiesCheck Point Software TechnologiesEndeavors TechnologyFaceTimeGatewayIBM AustraliaMcAfee AustraliaMcAfee SecurityMicrosoftPoint Software TechnologiesReuters AustraliaYahoo

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