By Dee Scrip © All rights reserved.
IM (Instant Messaging) - man, we thought we had it made in shade when we stumbled over this unique way to communicate! Outside of talking person-to-person on phone, IM was next best thing. Texting talk was endless and cost was nonexistent. Well, those were good old days of yore – you know, those days of glorious innocence.
Just as we were getting oh so comfortable, happily IMing away to each other, then came cloak-and-dagger entrance of treacherous “IM villains”. With their ominous arrival, party abruptly ended. It seemed like overnight, our instant messaging (IM) turned into instant mercenaries, and carnage was strewn all over Internet.
First, it was one by one, then numbers increased and starting growing exponentially, as friends began receiving, and inadvertently sending, viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. Then it went from bad to worse, as report after report surfaced describing grisly results of innocent victims losing their identity because these villains had accessed their personal and confidential information. Truly this was darkest of times for all IMer friends – regardless of IM service we were texting on.
How could this have happened? And more importantly, how can we protect ourselves?
Well, I found out that these villainous hackers had accessed a nifty little program originally designed to benefit us, and twisted it to intercept our conversations traveling across internet. They now have a profitable tool to use that intercepts our data packets and sends us a virus, and duplicates it by sending same ugly bug to everyone on our Buddy List.
Once a hacker has gained access to our Buddy List, they trick our friends into thinking WE, (a trusted source), are sending them a file to download. Then when our friends innocently download file, these villains can then access their computers as well, and use personal and confidential information gathered to line their own pockets. How it affected businesses whose employees used IM to communicate…well, I will just let your imagination take over from there…because hackers let theirs do same.
A lot of us were thinking that we had nothing to worry about because we had anti-virus software on our computers, and that provided protection we needed. Wrong!
Anti-virus software is not designed to protect our data packets traveling across internet. There are still no anti-virus applications that directly monitor IM traffic. This is due to difficulty in finding IM traffic as it is often embedded inside http packets. And what is worse yet is that Forrester’s, Root stated that “In 2005 and 2006, we expect IM to get hit with some serious attacks…”