According to IM services provider ProcessOne a staggering 72 percent of UK businesses have banned the use of IM software such as MSN and AIM citing security fears as the main reason. At the same time, some 75 percent of those businesses admit that IM could be a valuable collaboration tool for their organisation. It seems, however, that the fear of confidential information leaking out of the confines of the business, with software downloaded and installed without company approval, tips the scales enough to cancel out the perceived benefits.
“It is a shame that more businesses in the UK aren’t taking advantage of the benefits that instant messaging can bring,” said Mickael Remond, CEO of ProcessOne. “Many organisations are torn between wanting to maximise security or gain collaboration and productivity benefits, and clearly maintaining security is winning at this point. However, businesses need to ask themselves whether taking such a knee-jerk reaction as completely banning the use of IM is really the best option for the company.”
I am not sure that knee-jerk is the correct description to apply here, after all the research does refer to public IM services rather than an in-house system which could still be used but without quite the same security implications.
However, there is no doubting that the level of concern over security risks of public IM use was widespread: some 88 percent of IT directors said as much. 56 percent insisting that their organisation was worried about losing sensitive business information, with only 12 percent being aware of any corporate public IM audit trail. 21 percent used a private IM system specifically so that such an audit trail can be kept.
“Clearly, everyone recognises the benefits that IM can bring. However, the challenge will be for businesses to look for strategies that enable them to reap the rewards without putting themselves at risk of a security breach” Remond said, adding "while corporate IM tools are changing and becoming more user friendly, the best solution is to find a way to allow employees to use whichever solution they are most comfortable with, while providing a way for businesses to enforce their IT policies to protect the organisation and ensure that audit trails are kept. Only by finding a strategy that allows this level of flexibility can businesses hope to maximise their security, as well as their collaboration and productivity.”