Zone Labs Secures IM With New Software


Zone Labs this week plans to expand its security offerings with new software for securing instant messaging.

The launch of IMsecure Pro comes on the heels of Zone Labs' acquisition of IMsecure, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based developer of instant-messaging security technology. Zone Labs didn't disclose terms of the deal.

IMsecure Pro secures popular instant-messaging services such as AOL Instant Messenger, MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger, said Fred Felman, vice president of marketing at Zone Labs, San Francisco. It also secures third-party instant-messaging clients such as Trillian and Meca.

The software protects instant-messaging services from in-bound threats such as buffer-overflow attacks, malicious code and spam, Felman said. It also prevents users from accidentally sending out sensitive data such as social-security numbers and allows them to block file transfers and encrypt messages to ensure privacy. IMsecure Pro is protocol-based rather than client-based, he said.

The first version of IMsecure Pro is designed for the consumer and small-business markets, but Zone Labs plans to incorporate the technology into its Integrity security product for the enterprise by the end of the year, Felman said.

Instant-messaging services are creating security problems for enterprises, and IMsecure Pro may help alleviate them, said Boni Bruno, CTO and chief security officer at Data Systems Worldwide, a solution provider in Woodland Hills, Calif.

"AOL Instant Messenger is a very clever and deceptive piece of software. It will try different ports and find numerous ways to go through your firewall," Bruno said. "It's a real headache for numerous administrators."

Some companies are using instant messaging internally to communicate with distribution partners, sending out sensitive information such as purchase orders, he said, adding that the technology "needs to get better and more controlled."

Bruno said he has implemented inline intrusion-detection systems to control instant messaging at some client sites.

Felman said some competing products simply take a firewall-like tactic of blocking the instant-messaging protocol altogether.

IMsecure Pro 1.0 costs $19.95 and includes one year of security updates.