EDS postpones instant message ban

Oops - customers...

EDS has postponed its proposed ban on instant messaging after staff told its techies that it was an important tool for communicating with clients.

Last week, EDS told staff that IM products (such as AOL, ICQ and Yahoo!) would be blocked at its firewall from May 8. It cited security concerns, especially the fears that viruses which would otherwise be blocked by gateway AV protection would slip through to user workstations via instant messages.

EDS has now postponed the blocking order.

In a memo to staff, Paul Clark, EDS' chief information security officer said "due to the nature of this change, we are aware of several clients that are affected and are working to co-ordinate alternative solutions for those clients. Blocking instant messenger capability at the firewall will not occur as previously scheduled on 08 May 2002."

"We will follow-up when a new date has been determined," he added.

EDS is not alone in its attempts to curtail users' of chat and instant messenger services at work.

Last week we reported how Samsung has commissioned its systems integration arm to create filters that prevent workers from accessing portals such as MSN Messenger and Daum Messenger, and also to intercept inbound chat and IM traffic from outside the company. The move created discontent among employees, the Korea Times reports.

Alcatel workers in the US have been banned from using instant messaging for some time, a Reg reader who works for the company informs us.

IM is convenient but it can create holes into an organisation. Instant messaging attacks have become a common method of propagation in recent viral outbreaks, and (as CERT warned back in March) a tool for social engineering, including tricking users into running malicious software (potentially DDoS attack tools) on their machines. ®

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