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IM hacks way up in first quarter

The number of combined IM- and Web-based attacks increased by 300 percent in the first quarter, Websense says.

Hackers are increasingly using instant-messaging applications to fool users into installing malicious code and revealing personal information, according to security company Websense. The number of combined IM- and Web-based attacks increased by 300 percent in the first quarter, compared with the last quarter of 2004, Websense said.

According to another recent report, many companies are unprepared for IM attacks. At the same time, market research company IDC estimates that by 2008, about 450 million people will be using an IM product. Brian Burke, IDC's research manager of security products, said that hackers are already exploiting problems with today's IM systems: "Employees who are not familiar with these new threats can easily open a new, seemingly innocuous IM message that pops up on their screen. With that one click of the mouse, they can get infected."

The staff of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.