Instant Messaging Security Concerns

Instant Messaging is becoming a very popular form of communication both for personal use and business use. Due to the popularity and convenience of Instant Messaging applications, many platforms for using this type of application have become available for PCs and mobile devices. While this is convenient for the users of IM, it also increases the possibilities for malicious attacks and security breaches.

General Security Concerns for Instant Messaging

Confidentiality: Information that is transmitted through Instant Messenger passes through several disclosure points prior to reaching the message recipient. This means that the messages pass through servers and networks that may or may not be secure, so there is no guarantee that the information you send is secure. To complicate matters, Instant Messaging services often contain file sharing programs which can leave confidential information on the server after you terminate the session.

Network Issues: The risk of denial of service attacks is much greater with an Instant Messaging application. Denial of service attacks prevents legitimate users from accessing the network by using the network excessively to consume resources, destroy configurations, and alter network components. The intruder is able to intercept messages, set up devices to communicate with each other illegally, and consume other resources that your operating system needs to function properly.

Malware: Malware such as adware, spyware, worms, Trojans, and other viruses can easily be transmitted through your Instant Messaging program. This also includes phishing programs that disguise themselves as legitimate and then trick you into revealing your personal information.

Application Exploits: Just like PC operating system vulnerabilities, Instant Messaging applications can have their own vulnerabilities for hackers to exploit. To complicate matters, software that supports Instant Messaging applications can include a new set of vulnerabilities that can be inherited by the Instant Messaging application that relies on them to function.

Mobile IM: The increased use of wireless mobile devices opens up new vulnerabilities and security concerns that are beyond those associated with using your PC for Instant Messaging. With mobile devices and wireless connectivity it is much easier for hackers to exploit email messages and members of your contact list by recognizing the vulnerabilities that are associated with these applications.

Instant Messaging brings a whole new avenue for hackers when it comes to breaching security because more people are using this application for a lot of different uses including transferring files. Multiple vulnerabilities have been discovered with others that are up and coming that allows hackers to easily gain remote access to your PC or mobile device.

While there are many benefits to using Instant Messaging you must keep in mind that there is no security guarantee when using this application. Make sure you enjoy the benefits and use this application with caution.

Log in or sign up to comment.

Post a comment

Log in or sign up to comment.
Spyware has many ways of getting onto your computer, such as:

When you download programs - particularly freeware, or peer-to-peer sharing programs.

More covertly, spyware can install itself just by you visiting certain sites, by prompting you to download an application to see the site properly.

ActiveX controls. These pesky spyware makers will prompt you to install themselves while using your Internet browser