Ideal Security Environment for Instant Messaging in Companies

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While using the internet for messaging or other forms of communication in a corporate environment, security is quite critical. Various steps are taken by the IT team within the company as recommended by the cybersecurity experts. These are part of what is termed as unified threat management or UTM. The normal channels of communications include emails and social media platforms apart from the simple messaging service. All these need to be adequately protected through firewalls. If additional layers of security are required to prevent any malware intrusion, that has to be provided.

Every organization has its unique ways to keep communications across its offices confidential. Messaging between executives at various levels within the company has to be through secure channels. At every stage, the cybersecurity team within the organization would want to ensure messages are delivered only to the intended recipients. A security system through software has to be put in place to make sure the identity of the sender and the person or persons the message is addressed to are verified.

Different types of cyber attacks mounted at corporate levels are due to certain drawbacks in the security backbone. Attackers manage to steal data if the security is not tight and alert.

Types of Risks Associated with Security of Messaging Apps

Instant messaging or IM has its advantages and limitations too. Any communication over the internet can be vulnerable to interception by unscrupulous elements. Here are some of the risks:

  • Instant Messaging using the intranet or the internet has its security implications. If WhatsApp enjoys such huge popularity among the users, it is because of its end-to-end encryption capability. In the absence of that, any data packet on the internet can be intercepted and the connection hacked. If you have sensitive information or data, don't share it on IM.
  • Messaging services have now become the hotbeds for phishing activities by hackers. Email used to be the frequently used method for planting malware. You would receive a message in your inbox announcing some sort of a reward and asking you to click on a link. The moment you do that, it will hijack your mobile and plant malware that will swiftly steal data, including contacts and other sensitive information. Beware of such messages.
  • There have been cases of Trojans being introduced through the backdoor if the firewalls are not perfect.
  • There is a risk of denial of service (usually called DDoS) attacks being mounted.
  • Reports of cyberattacks through instant messaging services have included cases where messaging or chat sessions are hijacked. The hacker will pose as if a genuine contact known to you is on the other side. This is a real threat and has to be addressed by cybersecurity.
  • There is also a legal perspective to this issue related to copyrights.
  • If you were to look around for the latest software solutions to tackle security issues in instant messaging, you may come across many common features in them.

  • You will find the tools to block the malware and viruses of very recent origin as detected by the cybersecurity researchers. They can prevent spam and phishing kind of messages from being delivered.
  • Encryption of messages with public and private keys is ensured.
  • The software will be capable of filtering messages even if they are in different languages. They have algorithms to detect malicious content and block them.
  • There are provisions to keep a close eye on the IP address from where the messages and emails are originating and block them.

How Do You Ensure Your Company's Messages are Protected?

Of the many new tools developed through the use of the latest technology, one relates to how the IP address could be scanned by the software and block the communication when there is a threat. This is particularly applicable to emails. The sender of the email has to have genuine credentials and again, the algorithms quickly match the existing database for IP addresses with their reputation intact and block the suspect ones. There can be a list created for blacklisted IP addresses and any communication from them will be automatically blocked at the door.

The other significant development in the fight against malware attacks is the solution based on detecting the signatures in the messages. Here, there is the zero-hour detection and signature-based detection. To elaborate on these, the underlying principle is to detect the odd ones that don't conform to the ones in the database. They are flagged and removed. Signature-based verification is similar to the fingerprint sensor on mobile or other devices. The messages from known signatures are allowed while the others are blocked. Users can override if the sender is otherwise familiar.

Some Tips on Steps to be Taken for Additional Security in IM

  • Experts recommend the password to be very strong. There are apps that help you with this. The Guidelines for Password Management by Carnegie Mellon University could be of great help as well.
  • Make sure you have the latest versions of the security updates by the IM companies. They keep working on their software and updates.
  • You can keep the automatic updates for your IM �On'
  • Encryption of messages is a must. Take all the necessary steps in this direction. The Electronic Frontier Foundation could be a source for this.
  • Avoid the "remember password" mode on your IM.
  • Avoid clicking on messages from anyone outside your contacts list.
  • Choose the email route to receiving files instead of file transfers.
    1. Email attachments are scanned by the mail server and blocked if suspicious.
    2. It is easier to identify the sender of an email than a message.
  • Avoid clicking on any links sent within mails unless you are 100% certain that the person sending it is genuine. Even there some caution is advised. They pose a serious threat.
  • You must avoid using the machine where you store sensitive data to carry on your IM conversation. Even if someone were to gain access, your data will be safe.
  • Avoid file-sharing.
  • Your virus protection program must cover all channels used for messaging, which include Server Broker and Server Proxy.