inherent dangers of Instant messaging (IM) systems

Prashant Verma, a senior software product development leader and a silicon valley veteran, is weighing his professional insight on the inherent dangers of Instant messaging (IM) systems.

The following paragraphs highlight Prashant’s professional perception of the subject matter.

Instant messaging (IM) systems can be very useful. They allow immediate and convenient communication between two or more parties. Users on externally administered system don’t have to worry about managing the infrastructure. But, along with the convenience and ease of IM come many potential threats. With IM, there’s a constant concern about information flowing in clear text, internet links in messages, file transfers, and social engineering.

Information sent via IM is generally sent in clear text. There are programs available that can be used to encrypt IM traffic, but these are usually separate add-ons. If someone is sending sensitive information via IM, that information is vulnerable to network sniffing.

Prashant also believes that users should exercise caution while using IM systems. ”You have to be very careful with IM systems because you never really know who is on the other end. IM systems allow you to post Internet links inside of messages. This can be very dangerous. The links you receive could direct you to malicious sites. Many e-mail systems can scan messages for dangerous links, but IM generally does not do this. IM clients may warn you about clicking links in messages, but they will not block them”, he said.

Prashant Verma warns that social engineering attacks are also common with instant messaging systems. He believes that because of their relaxed and informal nature, IM systems often give people a false sense of familiarity and trust. ”You must still remember that you do not really know who is on the other side of the connection. If you send confidential information through an instant message, you need to be aware that you could be sending it to anyone.” he warned.

Prashant Verma is a senior software product development leader and has led the development of innovative and ground-breaking software products. He has an MBA from Haas School of Business, U.C. Berkeley, Master of Science in Computer Science from Georgia Tech, and Bachelor of Engineering from National Institute of Technology, India. With a career spanning 20 years, he has worked in some of the leading companies around the globe such as Telstra, Genesys, Hutchison 3G, Symantec, TIBCO, F5 Networks, and Penumbra, Inc. He is a Senior Member of IEEE, member ACM, and regularly judges several international awards such as Edison Awards, Stevie Awards, Brandon Hall Awards, SIIA Codie Awards, Globee Awards, etc.

The views expressed here reflect the views of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of any of their present or past organizations.

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