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FaceTime releases IM security tools

The company unveils two new products as it looks to sell businesses instant-messaging products that are equipped with security features meant to placate information technology departments.

Instant-messaging software company FaceTime Communications unveiled on Monday two products that are designed to make IM programs secure for business use.

IM Guardian manages communications through IM, peer-to-peer, Web conferencing and VoIP (voice over IP) applications. Administrators can use the software to block unwanted exchanges through these channels or to manage them for legitimate corporate use.

IM Director lets companies embed logging, archiving and security features into IM communications. FaceTime has offered these services in the past to industries such as financial services, for which compliance rules require conversations to be monitored and archived.

introduced IM Guardian in order to address the increased use of IM and peer-to-peer applications at work. Both instant messaging and P2P have become hugely popular among consumers, but corporations have cracked down on usage because of a lack of security and accountability features. Many companies have also banned P2P services such as Kazaa because of bandwidth and legal concerns.

"As more companies realize the benefits of IM and P2P, it is important for network administrators to know and have control over how the applications themselves behave over the network," Rahul Abhyankar, senior product manager at FaceTime, said in a statement. "If left unmanaged altogether, these applications can be used as Trojan horses to attack the network at a later time."

Many companies are trying to sell businesses IM products that are equipped with security features meant to placate information technology departments. Microsoft, IBM, Sun Microsystems, America Online and Yahoo are all trying to sell enterprise IM products.

Software giants such as Microsoft view IM as a spearhead into selling other real-time services such as VoIP. Microsoft this summer plans to launch its Office Real-Time Communications Server 2003, initially as an enterprise IM service, and later as a service that incorporates VOIP and video conferencing, among other features.

FaceTime has deals with AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo to offer security to their IM services for business sales.

FaceTime did not offer pricing information for the new products.