V.Ships, which provides ship management services, has deployed software to secure and manage its instant messaging communications and ensure compliance with financial-reporting legislation.
The IM Manager software from IMlogic will create a full record and audit trail covering all V.Ships' instant messaging conversations with clients.
The firm piloted IM Manager in its Glasgow office over the summer, and the software will now be rolled out across V.Ships' 55 offices worldwide.
Initially it will be made available to those staff who use instant messaging to conduct commercially significant communications.
Walter Wilson, group network security engineer at V.Ships, said the use of instant messaging had become more widespread in the past year. He said several of the company's clients, including insurance brokers communicating about multimillion-pound insurance claims, had adopted it as their preferred messaging system, and certain V.Ships staff had taken to instant messaging in response.
"Instant messaging is a valid business practice at V.Ships," said Wilson. "Our customers use a variety of instant messaging clients, and we need to ensure our employees can communicate with them securely over all public instant messaging providers."
He said the benefits of a fully traceable real-time communication that does not incur telecoms costs were particularly marked for an international organisation such as V.Ships.
With IM Manager, all instant messaging conversations are recorded and fully searchable, and line managers can review staff conversations to ensure best practice. Wilson said this was particularly important as it ensures V.Ships is complying with legal requirements such as Sarbanes-Oxley. IM Manager also helps the company to reduce the use of instant messaging for file sharing and personal use.
The software works by redirecting any V.Ships staff who access commercial instant messaging services such as Yahoo to IM Manager's proxy server.
"It means we can close down the firewall tool to inside users and allow one point of access to the instant messaging suppliers. So instead of clients and users port-scanning, we can really control access and run everything within the IMlogic environment," said Wilson.
He added that IM Manager was chosen because it supports all public instant messaging services and has strong Microsoft links.