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Security from A to Z: IM

As e-mail users become more savvy about threats, instant messaging services become a more appealing target.

As corporate e-mail security has improved, and users have got more savvy about not opening every attachment that lands in their in-box, hackers have had to turn their attention to other avenues of attack.

And the rise of IM, or instant messaging, has given them a new target, not least because of its increasing popularity in the corporate sphere.

IM clients are the playground of IM viruses. This malicious software is spread by an IM user clicking on an executable file attachment, or on a hyperlink in a chat window that then links through to a malicious Web site. The ways of getting those links in front of the end user are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

Last year, warnings of a new breed of IM worm that attempts to chat with its victims surfaced, suggesting new and more sophisticated IM worms could well be on the way.

Natasha Lomas reported for in London.