How to Ensure Safe Messaging

Best Practices for Secure Internal and External Correspondence Whether via email, instant message or text messaging, your employees spend vast amounts of time writing and responding to business-critical messages.

It's well-known that network communication is susceptible to eavesdropping and packet sniffing software looking for sensitive information. To avoid these traps, there are secure methods for communicating in the workplace between employees and outside of the company network.

Securing Internal Correspondence Using instant messaging applications for communication among employees is very common in the workplace. Most of the messages from these applications are not sent securely, as they travel through and outside your company network. Free, secure chat applications help reduce the risk of losing business-critical data and help protect the privacy of your employees. Most of these secure chat applications use a moderate-to-high level of encryption to avoid traffic being pieced together, while still maintaining high performance. Among the solutions:

  • Trillian Instant Messenger ( http://www.ceruleanstudios.com/) is a messaging platform built over many popular instant messaging clients like AIM, Yahoo! and ICQ. Trillian has had some security concerns in the past, so its usage should be reviewed by IT and security personnel before implementation.
  • Skype ( http://www.skype.com/security/business/) is a free and secure application that can be used for both instant messaging and voice calls between computers. Skype is very business-oriented and can be configured by network administrators to control access privileges on the network.

Securing External Communication Employees working from home or remotely should always be using Virtual Private Network (VPN) software to connect to workplace computers and networks. This ensures any data transmitted is secure and that no third parties can access sensitive information.

Messages sent outside of the company network can contain information that employees should not be discussing. Email and instant messaging traffic can contain sensitive information such as valuable customer data, marketing or business plans, as well as financial reports.

Server software can be used to filter the type of traffic that passes in and out of your network to ensure company policies are enforced. These content filters can be configured to not only block spam and viruses, but also to prevent any type of information from leaving your network. Email and instant message content, along with email attachments, can all be checked for intellectual property information, credit card numbers, or any other information as they leave or enter a network.

Some of your existing spam filtering and antivirus software may also work for content filtering if configured properly, so IT and security personnel should look into them.

It is important to protect your company assets from scammers, hackers and other information penetrators. Secure chat applications and content filters provide a good method to ensure the confidentiality of business-critical information and the privacy of your employees.


About the Author

Thomas Donchez

Thomas Donchez

Contributing Writer

Thomas Donchez is a graduate of East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Security and Computer Science. Tom is currently working toward his Masters Degree in Computer Science and resides near Allentown, PA.

With a strong background in computer security and great interest in current trends, Tom enjoys writing on security related topics. His recent research includes rootkit detection and advanced steganography methods, and his thesis work relates to network traffic analysis and reporting. Tom also spent three years as an ASP.NET web developer.




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