Resellers May Carve Niche in IM Security WaresBy John Moore | Posted 2004-06-04 Email Print
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With IM systems being employed in 92 percent of all commercial and noncommercial enterprises, Contract Watch columnist John Moore sees IM security possibly becoming a hot area for resellers and integrators who do their homework.
Security software vendors are rolling out instant messaging solutions, and they believe resellers can help move their new wares.
Enterprise-class deals involving IM security appear to be few and far between at this point. But the market is young, and vendor wares are just starting to gain traction.
Zone Labs six months ago began shipping an optional IM security module for its Integrity endpoint security solution. "It is in the implementation phase in a number of accounts," said Fred Felman, vice president of marketing at Zone Labs.
The module supports AOL IM, ICQ, Yahoo Messenger and Microsoft's MSN Messenger.
More sales could be on the horizon. Zone Labs has about 1,600 Integrity accounts, many of which "have expressed desire to integrate [IM] security," Felman said.
Although Zone Labs could not immediately point to a reseller with an IM security contract in hand, the company believes the channel will play an increasing role in the field.
Check Point has also just revamped its channel program. "Check Point is further enabling us to build expertise in selling their solutions to our targeted enterprise and high-end customers," Brad Reed, director of Internet security at Miami-based reseller Compuquip Technologies, said in a statement.
"We strongly believe in the quality of Check Point's Perimeter, Internal and Web security solutions," Reed said.
NFR Security, meanwhile, plans to launch an IM solution pack for its upcoming intrusion prevention appliance, which is slated for availability in July.
The solution pack will ship in August, said Andre Yee, NFR's president and CEO. The product initially will support AOL IM, but Yee said support for Yahoo and MSN will follow.
Yee said NFR has been shifting to an indirect channel model, adding that resellers and integrators will play a role in moving the company's IM security solution.
When it comes to intrusion prevention and IM security, NFR aims to create "channel-ready" products that can be deployed by partners who don't necessarily specialize in security, he said.
Zone Labs and NFR hope to follow the trail of IM as it penetrates the enterprise market. Osterman Research recently reported that IM systems are employed in 92 percent of all commercial and noncommercial enterprises.
That proliferation has been unregulated for the most part, Yee said. "Most organizations are still playing catch-up with regard to having strong security policies for IM," he said.
IM's security vulnerabilities include the potential for buffer overflow attacks and the harvesting of user names and passwords, security executives said.
The market is set for resellers to step up to the plate and help customers plug their IM security gaps.
"I think of [IM security] as a great business opportunity," Yee said. "When there is this level of pain and attention, there's an opportunity for the reseller to step in."
For example, resellers can help customers update their security policies to "accommodate IM and peer-to-peer technologies like Kazaa," Yee said. Another reseller role, he added, will be to evaluate security tools.
In that respect, vendors such as Zone Labs and NFR willingly supply the goods. It's up the resellers to educate themselves on the emerging offerings and decide how they fit into their security practices.