Thursday, June 18, 2009

Secure Instant Messaging Issues

Many people talk about safety in the corporation from intruders—including, perhaps, its own employees. But who's protecting your instant messages from hackers attacks? Most companies don't pay a big attention for some personal calls, e-mails, and IMs, as long as the privilege isn't abused. But don't forget—they can legally monitor conversations on their equipment, whether phone or computer. So not only are your e-mails fair game, but so are your IM sessions.

While we're sure your messages are entirely wholesome and aboveboard, we're equally sure there are some you'd rather not have bandied around the department or forwarded to everyone. Fortunately, you can secure your personal IM messages without too much difficulty. Bear in mind, however, that no encryption scheme prevents keystroke capturing or copying unencrypted text from the screen by spyware and monitoring software; the messages are encrypted only while in transit, on your network, or on the Internet.

AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo! include encryption in the enterprise versions of their software, but the easiest way to encrypt personal IM sessions is to download IMSecure, from Zone Labs (www.zonelabs.com). The freeware version of this program will encrypt one IM account, and it also protects against buffer overflow IM exploits. AIM, MSN, or Yahoo! will all work with the freeware version. The Pro version encrypts multiple accounts and provides additional security features. Your correspondent must be running IMSecure as well; messages to recipients without the program are not encrypted.

IMSecure encrypts third-party, universal clients such as GAIM and Trillian, too. You can also find proprietary end-to-end encryption add-ons for MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger. These function like IMSecure, but only for one product.

Another route to securing IM is to get a digital certificate. A Class 1 or personal digital certificate is issued by a certificate authority, which maintains a unique public key for your identity. We tested VeriSign's certificate system for AOL Instant Messenger, which costs $14.95 a year. The VeriSign solution is not actually integrated with AIM, but there are clear directions for acquiring and installing the certificate. You can also use the certificate to secure and encrypt e-mail.

You start by going to www.verisign.com/products/class1/aim/index.html. You can choose the 60-day free trial option or pay $14.95 a year with a credit card. After you fill out your name, billing information, and e-mail address, VeriSign sends an e-mail with a PIN number that allows you to pick up the digital certificate from its site with your browser. Once you have done so, your browser stores the ID. Next you export the ID to a file, following the instructions on VeriSign's site. You then import the certificate into AIM.

When you restart AIM, you will be asked for the security password, and AIM will start normally. Others who see your name on their buddy lists will see a lock icon next to your name, but there is no change in AIM's operation. When you initiate a session with another user who has a certificate, you will see a message at the bottom of the window that says "Encrypted conversation" and cites the user's name and certificate authority. If you use AIM from another machine, your buddies will not see the lock icon and messages will not be encrypted.

You can also get a free "personal e-mail certificate" from the VeriSign subsidiary Thawte (www.thawte.com/email/index.html). The certificate works with IM as well and interoperates with VeriSign certificates. To install and use it, follow the instructions on the AIM and VeriSign sites. MSN, Yahoo!, GAIM, and Trillian do not currently support Class 1 certificates.

Digital certificates use public-key encryption. Your public key is on the vendor's servers, and the other user's secure AIM session retrieves your key, encrypts the message, and sends it to you, where your session uses your stored private key to decrypt it. While publicly vetted encryption, as used by AIM, is generally preferable, the proprietary algorithms used by IMSecure and other add-ons are probably sufficient for most users' needs.

by Bill Machrone

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Instant messaging applications (IM) with multiclient support.

A lot of multiclient instant-messaging (IM) services have cropped up that allow computer users to chat with each other over the Internet. Some can be installed onto your desktop, while others can be accessed online on the Internet. In either case, they're worth trying out, if you want to enjoy a fine experience communicating with your friends.

Multiclient IM resources

Adium Adium is my favorite multiclient instant-messaging tool for a few reasons. It supports practically any IM platform around, including AIM, Yahoo Messenger, Facebook, MySpace, Google Talk (via Jabber), and more. It even has a plug-in for Skype.

You'll rarely have any trouble communicating with friends in the service. But its most redeeming quality is that it's open source. So, if you want to modify the code to fit your own IM desires, that's possible. And those in the open-source community are constantly improving the product, whose updates typically install with ease.

When you download Adium (it's available for Mac OS X), you'll have the option of choosing your IM service. By default, Adium takes on the same design as Mac OS X. But with the help of some plug-ins from Adium's site, called "Xtras," you can customize it as you see fit. Those add-ons include emoticons, dock icons, scripts, and more. I could go on about Adium, but I think that you get the point: if you're a Mac OS X user, it's worth trying out.
Adium

Adium takes on the look of Mac OS X by default.
(Credit: Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET)

Digsby Digsby is a multifaceted tool that lets you communicate with friends over instant messaging, e-mail, or social networks. I recently took a look at its social-networking capabilities. After having the opportunity to use its IM services, I was just as impressed.

After installing Digsby on my Windows PC (Mac and Linux versions are reportedly on the way), I was able to log in to my accounts on AIM, Yahoo Mail, Facebook, and others. Digsby's app is designed well, with a more attractive interface than Adium's default skin. Digsby also gives you the option of sending an SMS text message from the application. Overall, I liked Digsby.
Digsby

Digsby lets you chat with anyone at any time.
(Credit: Digsby)

eBuddy eBuddy is a Web-based multiclient instant-messaging app through which you can connect to AIM, Yahoo IM, MSN, Facebook, ICQ, and MySpace. Although it provides a bunch of options, eBuddy doesn't quite stand up to the competition. It's not as responsive as some of the other apps in this roundup, and I was unimpressed by its design. That said, I did like that I could view my Facebook friends' profiles by clicking on a link in the client. I also liked that the app opens in a separate window--I find it more convenient than switching to a tab. Plus, it's available for Android-based phones, as well as the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP.
eBuddy

eBuddy isn't the best-looking service, but it still works well.
(Credit: Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET)

Meebo Like eBuddy, Meebo is a Web-based instant-messaging tool that lets you communicate with friends on AIM, MySpace, Yahoo, and MSN. You can also chat with Facebook and Google Talk friends.

When you go to the Meebo home page, you have the option of inputting your credentials for any of those services. The instant messaging on Meebo is outstanding. It's the same interface for all the sites, but you can get buddies' contact information, see their Facebook status, and even check out their entire Facebook profile by clicking on the appropriate link, which opens the profile in another tab. Meebo is one of the more popular multiclient IM tools on the Web for good reason--it's simple, responsive, and boasts support for a variety of clients. Even better, you can use it on your iPhone.
Meebo

Meebo lets you chat with your Facebook friends.
(Credit: Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET)

Pidgin Similar to Adium, Pidgin is an open-source IM client that allows you to modify it as you wish. If you don't want to do that, you'll still be satisfied with the software.

Once installed, Pidgin gives you the option of signing into your various IM accounts. You can chat with friends on AIM, Google Talk, ICQ, MySpace, and others at the same time. It's not as good-looking as some of its competitors, but it's designed more for the power user who wants to be able to chat with as many people at a time as possible. Pidgin is ideally suited for Windows machines, so that may be a problem for some. If you want to use an open-source instant-messaging platform on a Mac, Adium is your best bet.
Pidgin

Pidgin asks you to create accounts when you first start it up.
(Credit: Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET)

Trillian Trillian is a desktop IM client that supports instant messaging on AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, and Internet Relay Chat. Unfortunately, it's available only to Windows users at this time. The company is promising Mac and iPhone support in its follow-up version of the software, called Trillian Astra.

Overall, I was really impressed by Trillian. It supports the standard features like group chat, audio chat, and the option to view profiles. But having the ability to change skins was quite appealing. I was able to customize the experience to match my tastes. From dark to bright, there's at least one skin for everyone. Trillian is, quite simply, the most beautiful multiclient IM service in this roundup. If you want more functionality (such as bringing in your Google Talk contacts), you can also buy Trillian Pro, which costs $25.


Source:http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10264755-2.html
Author: Don Reisinger

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Do You Use Instant Messaging (IM) Chat online?

Instant Messaging software (IM), we thought we had it made in the shade when we stumbled over this unique way to communicate! Outside of talking face-to-face on the phone, IM was the next best thing. Texting instant communication was endless and cost was nonexistent. Well, those were the good old days of yore - you know, those days of glorious innocence.

Just as we were getting oh so comfortable, happily IMing away to each other, then came the cloak-and-dagger entrance of the treacherous “IM villains”. With their ominous arrival, the party abruptly ended. It seemed like overnight, our instant messaging (IM) turned into instant mercenaries, and the carnage was strewn all over the Internet.

First, it was one by one, then the numbers increased and starting growing exponentially, as friends began receiving, and inadvertently sending, viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. Then it went from bad to worse, as report after report surfaced describing the grisly results of innocent victims losing their identity because these villains had accessed their personal and confidential information. Truly this was the darkest of times for all IMer friends - regardless of the IM service we were texting on.

How could this have happened? And more importantly, how can we protect ourselves?

Well, I found out that these villainous hackers had accessed a nifty little program originally designed to benefit us, and twisted it to intercept our conversations traveling across the internet. They now have a profitable tool to use that intercepts our data packets and sends us a virus, and duplicates it by sending the same ugly bug to everyone on our Buddy List.

Once a hacker has gained access to our Buddy List, they trick our friends into thinking WE, (a trusted source), are sending them a file to download. Then when our friends innocently download the file, these villains can then access their computers as well, and use the personal and confidential information gathered to line their own pockets. How it affected businesses whose employees used IM to communicatewell, I will just let your imagination take over from therebecause the hackers let theirs do the same.

A lot of us were thinking that we had nothing to worry about because we had anti-virus software on our computers, and that provided the protection we needed. Wrong!

Anti-virus software is not designed to protect our data packets traveling across the internet. There are still no anti-virus applications that directly monitor IM traffic. This is due to the difficulty in finding IM traffic as it is often embedded inside http packets. And what is worse yet is that Forrester’s, Root stated that “In 2005 and 2006, we expect IM to get hit with some serious attacks”

But, don’t despair! I have discovered a cure!

In fact, I discovered the best of both worlds. What I have found is a computer phone (in “techy” terms known as VoIP - voice over internet protocol) that is optimally secure. One of the many features of the computer phone is the IM that is built into it. Thus, the IM instant messages are sent over optimally secure lines rather than openly public lines on the Internet — AND I can also actually talk to friends from my computer phone any time I want. The “good old days of yore” are back with even more !!!

Here’s what a computer phone is all about.

The computer phone was the creation resulting from taking the convenience and features of the telephone and combining it with the power of the Internet. Pretty ingenious I think! Although most computers have a built in microphone, some do not. Mine was one of those computers that did not. So, I ran down to a local store and bought one for $5. Then, much to my delight, I found out that it easily plugged into the back of my computer.

Here is what is really incredible about a computer phone. I can talk, IM, make 3-way calls, transfer a call to my cell phone if I am running out the door, and much, much more.

Actually, I have become so accustomed to the convenience of the features on my computer phone, that it actually becomes frustrating when I cannot IM a friend I am talking to on their cell phone or telephone. You see, often times, I find great sites to share with my friends, so I have to slowly spell out the location over the phone and repeat the letters so they get the right site, then wait for them to repeat it back to me, rather than quickly IMing them the site and letting them click on it right then and there.

One final word of wisdom — over 90% of all computer phone (VoIP) services out there do not operate on secure lines. The one I am using is optimally secure because they have their own proprietary high end encryption codec (code) with patented technology that is hosted in a professional facility. You just can’t get any better than that!

Want to try a computer phone out for yourself?

You can download the software and try it out for 7 days absolutely free and without any contract, obligations, or hassles. Here’s the place to visit http://www.free-pc-phone.com Oh, and yes, you will love this.if you use a dial up connection to the internet, these computer phones work too, in addition to satellite, cable, and wireless connections.

Writen by Dee Scrip.

Dee Scrip is a well-known and respected published author of numerous articles on VoIP, VoIP security, and other VoIP related issues. http://www.free-pc-phone.com

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Companies controls use of instant messaging software within an office environment.

Modern companies have been advised to control workers' use of instant messaging rather than blocking it outright.

A new guide to securing instant messaging is the latest in the ‘Securing Social Media' series of guides from Network Box, and claims that companies are increasingly finding that their employees are often using instant messaging for a business reason such as customer contact, or contact with remote teams.

However Network Box claimed that many instant messaging services are not secure, and so IT managers should control which services are used and secure them effectively.

Simon Heron, internet security analyst at Network Box, claimed that employee education is the most important factor in securing instant messaging. Heron said: “We need to go through a similar education process with employees as for spam email.

“Broadly, the messages for employees are: only use the service approved by your IT department, don't trust anyone you don't know, don't click on shared links, keep your personal details to yourself, log out when you've finished, and keep your IM service and anti-virus systems up to date.”

The guide advises on the agreement of an instant messaging platform, whether employee access will be granted and ensuring that it is updated and secure.



It also claims that messaging should be monitored, stating: “It is important to ensure employees understand that this is a company system, in the same way that the telephone or email systems belong to the company. Instant messaging shouldn't be abused by employees any more than email or telephone should be. Set clear guidelines as to what instant messaging use is acceptable.”

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How Instant Messaging Helps You In Fight Against Financial Crisis.

There are lot ways that a hosted IM client can help you in today’s economical situation, whether you are unemployed or not. If you ARE employed, of course you can use a hosted Instant Messaging program to help you communicate with your co-workers, employees, and supervisors, along with clients. If you are unemployed, however, you can still used secure IM to your advantage. Even though you may not have a full-time job, you can use Instant Messaging software to network with acquaintances, colleagues, and others. You’ll never know what someone knows someone else who can give you the recommendation, tip, or introduction you need in order to secure the job of your dreams!

Communication skills are crucial in ANY job field, and instant messaging can only improve your communication (and typing!) skills. Since I have started using instant messaging on a daily basis, my typing speed (words per minute) has only improved. I can now almost type 70 words per minute! Being able to practice my typing every day only keeps my accuracy and speed up to date. So, in conclusion, if you have former co-workers and employers on your IM list, keep them on there. You’ll never know when they will think of you for a job opening they heard of!

Unified Communications (UC) Is Brought By Mitel-Itec To Mid-Market.

Johannesburg, 3 June 2009 - Mitel, a leading provider of IP business communications solutions, has partnered with Itec South Africa in anticipation of huge growth in the local IP telephony market. Both companies believe IP telephony will dominate developments in the telecoms sector over the next 18 months.

In terms of the agreement, Itec has been named an accredited Mitel distributor for South Africa.

“The partnership will enable Mitel to significantly expand its route to market as it allows us to take advantage of Itec's well-established national footprint,” says Andy Bull, director at Mitel. “There are natural vertical and horizontal synergies between our two companies; we help people respond to real world business challenges with communication solutions that drive productivity, improve performance and reduce costs.”

Frank Mullen, chief operating officer of Itec Enterprise Solutions, says the partnership, which is aimed at the medium enterprise segment, forms part of the group's ongoing strategy to join forces with companies which products complement its own. “Mitel is a leader in unified communications, integrated business applications and research and development,” he says. “This agreement enables us to offer real value-added solutions to our clients, and means we can leverage Mitel's expertise in IP telephony.”

IP telephony uses the Internet's packet-switched connections to exchange information that has traditionally been carried over the telephone network. Calls travel as packets of data on shared lines, which enable companies to lower telecoms costs as they no longer pay Telkom fees.

This aggregation of voice, video and data onto a single IP-based network, known as unified communications, encompasses all aspects of an organisation's communication requirements, including e-mail, SMS, fax, voice and video.

“It combines multiple IT capabilities, enabling an efficient approach to communicating,” says Bull. “It's a level of location-independent communication, which means that work is where you are, not where your office is.”

Among the benefits of unified communications are lowered costs, improved employee efficiency and productivity, enhanced responsiveness to customers, suppliers and partners, and streamlined IT management, along with lower total cost of ownership.

One of the flagship products to be distributed by Itec is the Mitel 3300 IP Communications Platform (ICP). It provides organisations with a highly scalable, feature-rich communications system designed to support businesses of all sizes. The 3300 ICP offers enterprise IP-PBX capability, as well as embedded applications, including standard unified messaging, auto-attendant, ACD and wireless.

It operates across virtually any LAN/WAN infrastructure, and provides seamless IP networking. It also gives companies the opportunity to IP-enable their legacy PBXes so that they can protect their existing investments while still deriving all the benefits of a converged infrastructure.

At user level, the 3300 ICP supports a large range of desktop devices, including entry-level IP phones, Web-enabled IP devices, wireless handsets, and full-duplex IP audio conference units. It also supports applications, including multimedia collaboration, mobility, customer relationship management and unified messaging.

LAN Instant Messaging Software - LAN Messenger

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