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Triple threat: IM viruses get big jump on 2005

Security firm reports that so far this year, 10 IM worms and their variants have been baiting users of public instant-messaging networks.

Ten instant messaging worms and their variants have spread over America Online, ICQ and MSN networks in the first six weeks of 2005, according to Akonix Systems.

That's more than three times the three worms that propagated over public IM networks over the same period last year, the security company said on Monday. Akonix said the growth of malicious attacks targeting IM users will continue through the year, and enterprises should educate their employees about virus attacks and spam that spread via IM.

Viruses and spam over instant messaging are on the rise, and companies fear the problem may mushroom the way it did via e-mail. To prevent such a situation, some companies have formed a security group to take proactive measures. Microsoft's MSN messenger was recently hit by a worm that came in the form of a picture of a roast chicken with tan lines.

"Earlier this year, Akonix predicted that virus and malware attacks over IM would grow more than threefold for the third year in a row, and the first widespread damage from a major IM attack would hit corporate networks worldwide in 2005," Peter Shaw, CEO of Akonix, said in a statement. "If we analyze the first six weeks of the year, we may have even underestimated the security threats enterprises are going to face over the next 10 months."