Already renowned for its ZoneAlarm firewall products, Zone Labs recently offered IMsecure for Windows, the only instant-messaging security product, specifically intended to protect AOL, MSN, and Yahoo messaging client users. IMsecure for Windows defends against buffer-overflow attacks (a common means of penetrating PC defenses), stops spim (IM spam), and can encrypt instant messages between IMsecure users. IMsecure also works transparently, so you won't need to manage it after you've installed it. A free 2.51MB trial version is available from CNET Download.com.
The trial package downloads quickly. Double-clicking its desktop icon starts a brief installation process, which asks for only minimal registration information (such as username and organization). You don't need to enter any personal information to install IMsecure, but you will need to restart the PC to complete your installation and launch IMsecure.
After installation, the utility works immediately to identify and protect your IM clients. Unlike the individual IM client programs themselves, IMsecure is intended to work in the background, and there's virtually nothing to configure in the trial version. A system tray icon shows whether IMsecure is active. Basic commands such as Load At Start-up, Set Up Encryption, and View Event Logs are set via a simple but attractive interface screen. If you already use ZoneAlarm, the interface will appear quite familiar.
Our only real complaint is the extremely limited scope of the IMsecure trial version: it protects your IM client only from buffer-overflow attacks. IMsecure also encrypts instant messages; however, recipients must also have IMsecure installed and be using the same IM service (AOL, Yahoo, MSN). For $19.95, Zone Labs offers an upgrade that works with a broader range of IM clients, including Trillian. IMsecure Pro also protects personal information, blocking such things as your address, phone number, and credit card numbers or whatever personal information you tell it to protect. Finally, the Pro version sports a parental control filter and a spam-blocking feature to prevent unwanted IMs (spim).
The Zone Labs site provides very basic support for IMsecure, including a searchable Instant Support knowledge base to help with questions about product features and operational issues. Support also includes a general FAQ and access to a user forum. A complete IMsecure Pro manual is available for download as a PDF. If you can't wait, premium telephone support can be had for a whopping $2.95 per minute.