Archive for the ‘Instant Messengers’ Category

Instant Messengers, Yahoo, MSN, Skype Etc.

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

Instant messengers like Yahoo Messenger, Skype and MSN Messenger have become very useful and extremely popular. The technical advancement in these messengers has been rapid and astounding, what started out as mere text exchanges has mode to video and voice. Today a whole lot of multimedia and telephony features have been added to these utilities. Unfortunately, using these without completely understanding their implication could be dangerous to the user and even the organization. In this article we will pin point a few issues that need to be understood when using Instant messengers for home or office use.

Children: Instant messengers can pose serious threat to innocent children, adults with bad intentions could exploit children in a number of ways. Children using Instant messengers have been known to disclose confidential information over text and audio chats. Such information could include, school name and address, their actual names and address, status of their parents etc. Slightly older children using the internet might also send images and live video through these Instant messengers. Teachers have in some cases (with good intentions) taught children how to get free email services by disclosing factual name, address and other information.

Office: Instant messengers like Skype, MSN and Yahoo are widely used in offices. The usage is not limited to personal communications, official works if often handled through such utilities. If this is the case in your office, you will need to be aware of a few things. Documents, images and probably even audio video footage can be stolen out of your organization through these Instant Messengers. Technology used to develop these messengers is becoming increasingly advanced and secure. Secure encryption is used to transmit data (text, audio and video) to and from the Instant Messenger. An organization losing data in this way might find it difficult to prove the contents of the data being transmitted. Security measures are available and every organization should implement such measures.

Personal: If you use Instant Messeging services for your personal use, read the above and then give attention to these further issues too. Do not dislcose any personal information while chatting over these utilities. It is possible that the receiver has set an ‘auto save conversation’ option to ‘yes’. If this is true, anyone having access to that computer and login could see the conversation. This possibility increases with the rampany use of laptops. People could lose, misplace or leave laptops unattended, this increases the chances of others accessing the information on the computers.

Messenger and email: If you use MSN messenger, you might not be aware of a very common and possible security threat. Users often login MSN, and remained login even when not on their seat. All that is done is put the status to ‘away’. This might seem like a harmless thing but, the point is that a person coming and sitting on the users desk could access the email (hotmail) account of the user that is logged in. This refers to the email that is connected to the MSN login.

The above are just some of the threats posed by Instant Messengers. There surely will be solutions to plugging such threats but, very few people are aware of the dangers and very few have access to these security solutions. Education is of prime importance, each of us would need to be unselfish and ensure that the our friends, relatives and collegues are kept updated regarding such online security threats.