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IM Planet: Vendors boost instant messaging security

Vendors of instant messaging (IM) technology unveiled a number of offerings designed to bolster security at the IM Planet Conference and Expo.

FaceTime Communications teamed up with Network Associates' McAfee Security division to integrate anti-virus scanning technology into FaceTime IM products.

The agreement provides network-independent, anti-virus protection to corporate IM users by enabling scanning of all incoming IM attachments, according to FaceTime officials.

"Enterprises need centralised control of IM and anti-virus [protection] on a server basis," said Glen Vondrick, president and chief executive officer of FaceTime. Integration of anti-virus scanning technology into IM applications "is the natural next step".

The integration allows IT administrators to shut down unauthorised network access or block file transfers, Vondrick said. FaceTime's IM Director line of products interoperates with major IM networks including AOL, Microsoft's MSN, IBM's Lotus Sametime, Yahoo! and Reuters.

Also at the show, Akonix Systems 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. The enforcer technology can detect all public IM communications and manage the IM sessions according to corporate policy. The Akonix L7 1.1 also provides a Check Point Software Technologies' VPN-1/FireWall-1 integration option and additional management capabilities, such as content pattern detection, language filter, and external user disclaimer messages.

Meanwhile, Endeavors Technology 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 non-authenticated IM users. Magi Secure IM also creates secure user groups, that 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.

Asynchrony Solutions introduced Envoke, a secure messaging and presence platform that was developed as a research project within the US Department of Defence. 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, NT domains or LDAP.

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. Envoke also provides cross-platform support - including Linux, Windows, and Solaris - and fault tolerance and scalability through federated servers that can be geographically dispersed.

Meanwhile, Communicator 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 Forums, a new multi-person discussion channel feature.

The Forums capability provides long-term electronic meeting places that allow IM users to create and continue online, multi-person 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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