These days, it pays to be paranoid when it comes to the type of information about you that is shared online. Websites like Facebook and MySpace have only made many people’s lives even less private and it pays to take precautions when doing any type of activity online, whether it be online shopping or having conversations with friends and co-workers using an instant messenger. Below are some guidelines to making sure you are secure online.
- Only give credit card information to websites you trust. Make sure the website is securely encrypted. If you feel unsure about it, don’t give them your information. Use Google Shopping to find the same product on another, more secure, website or use PayPal.
- Don’t post personal information online. This includes your address, phone number, places you hang out regularly, when you’re going on vacation, or major spots you hang out.
- Don’t talk to strangers. Sure, the internet can be a great place to meet new people, but it can also be a place to meet a lot of people who have shady intentions. Avoid chat rooms or social networks where strangers can view your profile or personal information.
- The Bottom Line: Just use common sense. You wouldn’t go around in public at Panera or Wal-Mart with your credit card number or social security number on your t-shirt, so don’t do the same thing online. Just be smart. If something looks bad, then it probably is.
One of the highlights of Brosix Instant Messenger, both public and enterprise versions, is the fact that all communications run through either type of program is highly encrypted. This strong encryption ensures that any time of messaging or use of features in the Brosix Instant Messaging program will be highly confidential and kept only to the people using Brosix as authorized users.
For whatever reason you need to use instant messaging to communicate online, using a regular “free” instant messaging program like Yahoo! Instant Messenger or Jabber can pose a security threat to both your personal computer and your network. This is why it is important to pick an IM service like Brosix.
While both versions of Brosix offer a high level of security, it’s important to consider what type of use. The Enterprise version is for businesses and professionals who need to communicate with co-workers and employees. The Public (free) version is for users who still want a secure connection, but are mostly using instant messaging for conversing with friends and family.
While it may seem like you don’t need a secure connection to talk to people you already know, you can’t guarantee they themselves haven’t been attacked by a hacker or other malicious program. Taking the steps to protct yourself will help prevent a trusted colleague from passing something along to you, even if they don’t mean to.
One of the features of your Brosix Instant Messaging Network is the Users Activity Log. If enabled, all communication of your users is stored on the servers. Once recorded, Users Activity Logs cannot be altered.
You can search and view all user communication from the web control panel (log in the web control panel and go to Users-Users Activity Log).
Users Activity Log is kept on the servers for online reports for a few months. A ZIP file with a log of all communication is generated each month. You are advised to download these files on your systems and keep them private for future reference. To download the archive files, login the web control panel and go to Users-Users Activity Log Archives.
It is obvious that instant messaging is an asset to business. With instant messaging, users can communicate more quickly and efficiently with one another than just about any other form of long distance communication. Because of the sensitive nature of many business and professional communications, it is imperative that companies have secure instant messaging. Unfortunately, with IM’s rise in use, hackers have developed ways to attack computers through instant messages. Like email, instant messages can carry threats to computers in the form of viruses, worms, and Trojan horses, among others.
A good deal of the threat comes from the fact that public instant messengers don’t encrypt messages. Additionally, instant messengers allow for the sharing of any file on the user’s computer, so hackers can have access to all those files. And since instant messaging is a relatively new technology, PC security software has not been designed to combat many IM threats. There are several ways hackers can take advantage of these attributes of IM and cause mischief:
- Network Sniffers — These are programs that hackers use to find information online. Using sniffers, hackers can view the content of entire IM conversations and gain access to company information.
- Worms — A worm is similar to a virus in that it can infect a computer and cause problems ranging from annoying to malicious. Unlike a virus, a worm can infect a computer without any human action, such as opening a file. Worms can also multiply on a single computer and send themselves to other computers using the same server.
- Backdoor Trojan Horses — A Trojan horse appears to the victim as a safe file or program, and once it is opened, the hacker can create a backdoor, allowing access to the victim’s computer along with all their files and saved passwords. Classic Trojan horse programs are usually blocked by firewalls, but Trojans sent via instant messages aren’t blocked because the IM user appears to have given permission for the hacker’s access.
- Impersonation — Once a hacker has access to a victim’s files, he can use this information to impersonate the victim. The hacker can send instant messages to people on the person’s buddy list and gain information from the people he contacts.
To prevent others from gaining access to company information, as well as damage to employee’s computers, it is important to have secure instant messaging. The best way to do this is to use an enterprise instant messenger like the one offered by Brosix.com, because they encrypt all IM communications. They also secure instant messaging by allowing the administration to restrict IM use to authorized users. With secure instant messaging, a business can get the benefits of instant messaging without the headaches.
IM spam may not be as big a problem as email spam right now, but it will be, and the right business IM client will help you get ahead of the spammers before it becomes a problem. IM spam will be able to carry viruses just like emails, but trying to block IM spam is hopeless because spammers can easily move to another script and start spamming again as soon as they’re caught and their site is destroyed. The key is for businesses to control their IM networks. This is why it is so important to find a business IM client who can give you the support you need.
To start with, your business IM client should offer you the ability to control IM use by employees, like with the Features Control offered by Brosix.com. You could completely deny IM use to those who have no reason to use it, while some employees could be restricted to using internal IM only with others in the company. Other employees could be allowed to IM your clients. And a few people, like sales staff and tech support, would need unrestricted access.
Contact List Management
A business IM client should also offer you the ability to allow and block users. This way you can only allow employees to IM through a single, secure server like Brosix.com. Brosix lets a business choose a list of authorized users and keeps all others out, insuring that all file sharing and chatting remain within the company.
You may also want to keep tabs on your employees’ IM-ing activities. A top-notch business IM client will allow you to monitor in detail all IM activities, including file transfers as well as messages. If any employees are trying to sneak in some chatting unrelated to business, you’ll know about it. With Brosix.com, every voice call, chat, and file transfer is traceable so that you know exactly what your employees are up to in the IM network.
Avoid a spamming disaster via your company IM by choosing a secure business IM client such as Brosix.com who offers the right support. Just make sure that your client offers you controllable features, contact list management, and an activity log so that your IM spam blocking is effective enough to keep your employees focused and your company safe.
Many small businesses shrug off tools that provide extra internet security because of the costs and complexities of the issues. Instant messenger security is no different. Many small businesses reach for a public instant messenger just to save the time and money. But here are a few reasons why that decision could be costing you more than you think:
1. Monitoring activity
Public instant messengers give you no way to see what your employees are doing with their chat time. In fact, for all you know, employees are chatting with family and friends. Short of walking up behind them, you can’t really tell.
Brosix offers full featured tracking of conversations. Imagine how much productivity you can get back if you find your employees are actually chatting with family and friends. Would this recover the few dollars per month that instant messenger security would provide?
2. Controlling members
This somewhat relates to the tfirst monitoring activity point: by controlling who your employees talk to you can reduce time wasting and many other security threats. In businesses with 5-50 employees, allowing access to the full network may not be a big deal. But if you have more than 50 employees, you may want to use Brosix’s membership features to limit who can talk with whom.
3. Anti-virus protection
One of the most important points at which companies of all sizes should be scanning files for viruses is when those files are transferred from one computer to another over the corporate network. This is often done via email, but more and more this is occuring over instant messenger network as well.
Brosix scans all files when they are sent over the network, and that is part of the built in product – no additional fees are required.
Instant messenger security is of vital importance to businesses of all sizes. The small costs of integrating Brosix compared to the productivity increases, the control achieved, and the virus protection often far outweighs the cost of a free, public instant messenger.
The enemy is getting smarter. Sure, you want to keep your employees productive, but where is the line between productivity and allowing them to fall victim to the latest “blended” attacks being manufactured by malware authors. As we’ll discuss, an enterprise instant messenger may be one of the smartest moves you can make.
Dr. Paul Judge of Purewire, Inc. – a web security firm – posits that the new form of attack comes from an invitation from a friend to a website where malware is exploiting a browser issue. This is what he calls a “blended attack.” The primary delivery is to contact a victim through email or instant messenger. Strike up a conversation, and lead them to a video page or other site where a download is required.
For example, we’ve all been prompted to “Update your Adobe Flash Player” and mindlessly click OK. This scenario has been handcrafted to draw in a web user and deliver software of some sort.
Dr. Judge points out that you cannot try to possibly prevent your users from visiting every possible website, so URL filtering is out of the question. Even the best lists only contain 60 million sites that are blacklisted, but Judge points out that Google has over a trillion sites indexed! That’s a significant gap!
Beating the blended attack
One of the best ways to prevent your employees from being exploited is to remove communication with the outside world through an enterprise instant messenger. If an attacker can never communicate with your employees, then the blended attack can never be launched.
By limiting who your employees can talk to, you are that much more likely to avoid them having a conversation with someone bent on exploiting them. Public instant messengers do not give you the required privacy and control to prevent such attacks.
When a business gets burned by a security leak for the first time they almost always discover that an instant messaging program was used. This can come in the form of passwords being conned out of an employee, a file with a virus sent through a file transfer, or important messages being intercepted by a third party. Whatever the reason or circumstances, whether you are trying to patch the security hole before you get burned or you just went through your first bad experience, security is likely one of your top priorities.
Three major types of security are used in a modern business instant messenger. The first is control – who can chat with whom. The second is encryption – scrambling of data. The third is virus scanning – making sure files do not contain viruses.
Easily the most important but difficult to enforce type of security is controlling who can chat with your employees. Actually, with Brosix this is easy, but just try to tell your employees to only chat with fellow employees while using a public instant messenger. It just doesn’t happen. This means that anybody, anywhere, can communicate with your staff, leaving them open to exploitation.
Scrambling the data using keys is called encryption. This means that chats and files that might be intercepted look scrambled and are unusable. Make sure your business instant messenger also encrypts files that are sent. Brosix includes this feature since so many clients share sensitive documents over the instant messaging network.
Making sure a file does not contain a virus is called virus scanning. Just about any file can contain a virus in one form or another. This makes any kind of file sharing functionality a high risk. The problem is that files with viruses can be received in other ways such as email or carried in on a USB stick. Having virus scanning on your secure instant messenger adds one more layer of protection should someone knowingly or unknowingly attempt to spread a virus.
Small and large businesses alike have been using an instant messenger as a powerful business tool, but many have not yet jumped on board. Why is that? Many answers are given: security, employees chat with family and friends all day, employees just gossip about office matters instead of work. All of these are great reasons to be hesitant, but no longer a reason to hold out.
Top Reason for no instant messenger: Security
Enter Brosix. This is an enterprise instant messenger: your company has control of who can chat with whom. Employees cannot send or receive possible viruses from anybody on the outside of the company. The most common form of attack through an instant messenger is to send document files that contain a virus. The next most common is for somebody to pose as a fellow employee and ask for sensitive information. Both issues are eliminated with an enterprise instant messenger.
Next most common reason for no instant messenger: Chatting with friends and family
When employees are distracted by family and friends, this becomes a serious productivity killer. This is a common problem when companies reach for a generic instant messenger like AOL or MSN. Anybody can chat with your employees! This creates the above mentioned security threat as well as the potential for wasted time. Once again, an enterprise instant messenger like Brosix offers the solution. Since only employees can chat with employees, you don’t have to worry about productivity plummeting.
Brosix can’t help with office gossip, unfortunately. For that problem you are on own. But the big issues of security and chatting with family and friends is easily resolved with Brosix.
According to part 2 of a series on enterprise instant messaging on InstantMessagingPlanet.com, there are several things to consider for a company or organization must consider when choosing an enterprise IM system. These include:
- Authetication- Brosix uses a secure encrpyted connection along with individual passwords and user names on a private network to ensure that the user is who they claim to be.
- Security- Brosix provides 156-bit encrpyted servers to ensure that all data is secure.
- Anti-Virus- Because Brosix uses private networks, it ensures that viruses have a decreased chance of being downloaded on an employee’s computer or the workplace server.
- Logging- Brosix has an online login area that allows network administrators to monitor their private network.
- Special Features- There is no shortage of special features in the Brosix IM program- they include voicemail, whiteboard, file transfer, and video chat
- System Requirements- Brosix is developing a version for Mac, but for now, the system requirements are:
- Windows Vista/XP/2003/2000
- 128 MB RAM
- 50 MB disk space
- 800 MHz CPU or higher
- Internet connection
- Administration- Because the Brosix servers are managed by Brosix staff, you do not have to worry about spending IT time managing the network.
Clearly, Brosix has all arenas of the crucial areas that need to be considered when choosing an enterprise instant messaging program. Click here for a free 30-day trial for up to 10 users!