There has been a 300% increase in instant messaging (IM) security attacks in the first quarter of this year.
Enterprise internet security firm Websense said the massive jump is compared with the last quarter of last year and is based on recorded attacks on its customers.
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Websense said there were two forms of IM attack: the straightforward one which sees a message containing some form of virus or malware, or the newer and increasing threat of an IM containing a link to a malicious website, which can be used to spread malware or launch a phishing scam.
The increasing threat to businesses is worrying considering that analyst IDC predicts that there will be more than 450 million worldwide users of consumer and business IM products by the end of 2007.
And companies including Microsoft are also launching communications solutions for enterprises that integrate consumer IM services from the likes of MSN, AOL and Yahoo with other forms of business communication.
Websense recommends that companies introduce IM security policies that only allow certain users or groups of users to use IM, and to consider blocking IM file attachments.
Websense also warned companies should block access to URL links sent via IM.