Is Instant Messaging a security timebomb?

According to IDC, nearly five trillion Instant Messages are sent every year. This is approximately equivalent to one Instant Message per person in the world being sent every two seconds.

As IM becomes prevalent in corporate firms, to reduce email and telephone costs, IM attacks will be on the rise. Akonix saw a doubling of IM attacks at the end of 2005 and a major outbreak could have devastating effects.

Instant messaging represents both a passive and an active risk. Passive as IM can be used by employees for example to disseminate confidential information about their work to outsiders. Active, as the IM client itself could become the target for a viral outbreak or a trojan attack.

Companies would probably have to have a radical gestalt change in order to make their network more secure. Piece-meal approach to out-bound network security no longer works as it leaves gaps. Many companies have only recently implemented Internet and Email rules and protection and already, Instant Messaging is coming out as the next potential minefield.

IM is not only a communication tool, it is also quickly becoming one of the more prevalent avenues for advertising media. MSN for example has built a strong case for IM advertising. So it is to everybody's advantage if IM could stay as immune from attacks as long as possible.