Jabber, eyeing the enterprise, to encrypt IMs

Jabber.com Inc. announced Thursday an upgrade to its Jabber Instant Messenger application aimed at enterprise users that includes encryption of many messaging functions.

Jabber's program allows users to chat online in real time and both competes and interoperates with market-leading messaging products such as America Online Inc.'s Instant Messenger, Yahoo Inc.'s Yahoo Messenger and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Messenger.

Instant messaging is increasingly being used as an enterprise application for collaboration and communication, and the new release of Jabber, version 1.7, attempts to address the needs of the enterprise, the company said in a statement. Encryption will offer companies a greater degree of security and control of their instant messaging, the company said, adding that the new version of Jabber now supports SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption, a common encryption method used on the Web.

The program encrypts the connection between the Jabber client and the server, instant-message logs and the program's password, said Griffin Caruolo, manager of business development at Jabber. These features allow companies to be sure their confidential conversations will remain that way, he said.

The feature was added to the program after clients asked the company for it, Caruolo said, noting that between 10 and 12 companies are currently evaluating whether they will deploy the software.

There is recent precedent indicating that encryption of instant messaging may be needed by companies. In early March, the computer belonging to Sam Jain, chief executive officer of struggling Internet firm eFront Media Inc., was hacked into and had data, including instant messaging logs, stolen, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. To make matters worse, those logs were then posted on multiple Web sites, revealing confidential information to the public. Though Jain denied to the Times that the logs were authentic, three former eFront executives told the Times that the logs were real. If the logs had been encrypted, they might never have been posted online.

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