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Instant Messaging Is The Enterprise's Achilles Heel: Report

When it comes to security, the enterprise's Achilles Heel is instant messaging, and overall, IM-related threats are increasingly dangerous because IM has become nearly ubiquitous in both corporations and the home.

So says the newest report on Internet-related security from Symantec. The most recent Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, release in March, estimates that there were 300 million users of home and enterprise IM programs in 2005, and that AIM, MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger each have over 1 billion messages sent per day. The report adds that IM traffic is expected to surpass email traffic by the end of this year.

The greatest IM threat, according to the report, are worms, which made up 91 percent of all malicious IM code in the second half of 2005, a ten percent increase over the 84 percent during the first half of 2005.

But IM threats are not limited to worms. The report found that IM is also being used to propagate other kinds of malicious code and threats. In particularly, it found, IM-related phishing attacks are on the rise.

Also posing an increased danger to enterprises are that their internal IM networks can connect to public IM networks. The report notes, "As corporations begin adopting internal IM networks that can connect to the public IM networks, the complexity of these networks and number of connected users will increase. As a result, the number of potential IM targets for malicious code is expected to expand, creating the likelihood for increased attack activity."

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