The key to any successful business is communication and technology has assisted enterprises and corporations in gaining that edge. Due to the growing need of faster communication, a number of advanced tools have been developed and one such tool is instant messaging. This basically refers to the informal means of exchanging messages, which are commonly referred to as ‘chats’. A short form of emailing, instant messaging enables messages to be delivered and answered instantly, which has given it considerable popularity. While instant messaging has existed for decades in one form or other, it has never been this quick and this is why it has been widely adopted.
However, the downside with instant messaging is that just like email, there are some risks and dangers involved for businesses. There is a possibility that sensitive company information may be compromised if a hacker manages to get into their network. Moreover, they can also release a virus or malware program that can inflict considerable damage. Account information and passwords can be compromised and can be used for wreaking havoc. All of these issues have made it essential for corporations to encourage only secure instant messaging. The purpose is encrypt and decrypt the content of the instant messages so only the sender and receiver can understand.
There are several steps that enterprises and businesses can take for enabling secure instant messaging and they are outlined as follows:
- First and foremost, it is recommended that any public instant messaging applications and services should not be allowed inside the corporate network as they will lead to exposure.
- It is essential for every business to ensure that their employees are educated about the potential security risks involved in the use of public instant messaging services.
- The firewalls need to be configured to ensure that all instant messaging services that are not approved are blocked on all devices in the network.
- A good anti-virus software should be installed on every device as this is the best way to stop worms, viruses and Trojans from spreading through instant messaging file transfers. The programs should be set for automatic updates so your network remains protected against any new viruses.
- One of the best ways to promote secure instant messaging is to deploy corporate IM servers. A secure IM system is one that boasts of strong and certified encryption and authentication. Moreover, it should be easily integrated with existing corporate directory services infrastructure. But, if you decide to go with external IM servers, you should ensure that the IM clients are only connected to the designated servers and they are not listed publicly.
- Another necessary step for secure instant messaging is to install the latest patches and updates available for IM.
- Regular auditing should also be performed to verify that all employees are complying with the IM usage policy.
Apart from taking these measures, businesses can also encourage employees to use secure instant messaging apps outside of work as this can also ensure that no sensitive data is leaked.