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Skype to partner for security in the workplace

Partnership with instant messaging security specialist is meant to help organizations gain control over usage of the Net telephony tool at work.

Skype plans to announce a partnership next week with a security company to help organizations gain control over usage of the Net telephony tool at work.

The partnership is with Foster City, Calif.-based FaceTime Communications, a maker of software and appliances that let businesses monitor and secure use of instant message tools on their networks, people familiar with the announcement told CNET News.com.

The arrangement, slated to be unveiled Tuesday at the RSA Conference in San Francisco, is the first of what is expected to be several of such deals, these people said.

The announcement fits with Skype's efforts to position its Internet telephony application as a business tool. The company, part of online auctioneer eBay, has been drumming up the advantages of Skype for businesses. Skype already counts over 30 percent of its 171 million users as business users.

Skype has caused headaches for many IT administrators because it can find ways to make a Net connection despite strong firewall controls on corporate networks. Also, until the release of Skype 3.0 last month, there had been little administrators could do to control use of individual features in the Skype client, such as chat and file sharing.

Uncontrolled Skype use can cause compliance problems for businesses in certain industries. In the financial industry, for example, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regulations require that all instant messages be logged. In addition to the voice feature, Skype also includes instant message functionality.

Skype is looking to team with a number of security companies, also for consumer applications. In a recent interview, Skype Chief Security Officer Kurt Sauer said the company is in discussions with security firms to provide add-ons to its software to scan text sent through Skype's chat feature for malicious links.