IMlogic, Akonix, and FaceTime, are the three leading instant messaging (IM) management and security vendors. Like these other two, IMlogic focuses on three key areas: IM security to prevent worm and virus propagation, compliance through IM logging and archiving, and policy enforcement to ensure IM is available only in a controlled fashion to authorized users. As you would expect from a company involved in the IM market, IMlogic has certified support for all the major public and proprietary messaging systems: AOL, MSN, Yahoo!, ICQ, IBM Lotus Instant Messaging, Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2003/2005, Jabber, Reuters, Antepo, and others.
But in many ways, IMlogic is the odd one out of the big three. In January 2006, security vendor Symantec bought it for around $70 million, so it is now part of a big company, not a niche software maker.
The company is also unusual in that it sells one core product, IM Manager, as opposed to a number of modules that work together, as is the case with Akonix and FaceTime. Its unusual, too, because the product can be deployed in three ways as a packaged software product running on a corporate server, as a hardened appliance - the IMlogic IM Manager SMARTGig 6000 (SG6000) - or from one of four hosted service providers on an ASP basis.
A key question is how IM Manager will change now that IMlogic is part of Symantec. Well be looking at integrating IM Manager technology into other Symantec Web security and messaging products, says Jon Sakoda, senior director of product management at Symantec. We dont talk about our product roadmaps externally, but Symantec is strong in e-mail and compliance products and many of the problems are similar to IM so it makes sense in future to be integrated.
Sakoda says IM Manager is unique in that whereas other products react to security threats using anti-virus engines, IM Manager also takes a predictive approach. We can give customers a way to defend against new types of attacks using our predictive threat engine, he says. We look at traffic patterns and various types of usage patterns, and these can trigger protection measures when they are unusual.
These measures can include stripping out URLs from messages or redirecting potentially malicious URLs to an internal Web page warning users that the URL may be bad and the consequences of downloading a file from an untrusted source. In many cases, this diversion is enough to stop users infecting their PCs while not preventing legitimate activity, Sakoda says.
IM Manger now benefits from the resources of Symantecs Security Response, so anti-virus updates for Symantec products are now automatically pushed out to IM Manager as well, he says.
On the compliance side, IM Manager is the only product that archives files transferred though IM as well as the chat sessions themselves, according to Sakoda. In fact, few companies need to archive every file that every employee transfers, so rules can be set up to dictate which employees, or groups of employees, need to have their file transfers archived for compliance purposes.
What about mobile workers connecting to IM networks while on the move? IMlogics approach differs from that of, say, Akonix, in that it is based on trust. IM clients on laptops can be set up by the IT department so they point to IM Manager on the corporate network rather than straight to public IM servers. There is nothing, however, to stop employees downloading and installing their own clients and accessing the public IM networks in the normal way, thus compromising security and compliance procedures deliberately or through ignorance in the process.
Whether this will change, and precisely how IM Manager becomes integrated with the rest of Symantecs security products remains to be seen. The betting is that it will be 12 to 18 months before this becomes crystal clear.
IM Manager 7.5 pricing starts at $7,500 for a server license with per-user license pricing starting at $15
- Feature set
- Centralized Management and Control
- Configurable Group Policies
- IM Screen Name Registration
- End-User Access Control
- Server-Based IM Management
- IM Usage Statistics and Reporting
- In-Depth System Diagnostics
- Security and Policy Enforcement
- Network layer deep-packet inspection to detect / block rogue IM (and P2P) applications
- Automatic Security Updates from the IMlogic Threat Center
- Predictive Threat Protection
- Regular Expression Pattern Matching
- User Authentication Enforcement
- File Transfer Controls
- Virus Scanning
- Advanced Spam Control
- Internal Network Routing
- Controlled External Communications
- Compliance and Archiving
- Advanced Content Filtering for HR, Legal & Regulatory Compliance
- 100% Reliable Message Logging
- Granular File Transfer Controls
- Company-Specific Legal Disclaimers
- Systems Management and Reporting
- Integrated Reporting
- Compliance Reporting and Analysis
- Real-Time Systems Management and Monitoring Dashboard
This article originally appeared on EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet.com.