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8/9/2005
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Law Firm Fends Off IM Threats

Dow Lohnes & Albertson uses an IM logging service from Omnipod to keep instant messages free from viruses, quarantine suspicious files, and alert administrators when someone tries to transmit an infected file.

Instant messaging is one of those good-news, bad-news stories for many companies. IM is a good way to communicate. But it opens a channel for spyware, hackers, and other problems, causing some businesses to ban the use of IM by employees. Damon Collier, director of IT at law firm Dow Lohnes & Albertson PLLC, says IM--when done securely--is too good of a communications tool to reject.

Dow Lohnes, with 140 attorneys, has begun a multiyear strategy to deploy and secure IM at the same time. "We want a safe way to take advantage of IM communications," Collier says. But he's aware of the threats. IM is faster than E-mail, but it also provides a way for people to make unauthorized copies of documents and distribute them through a channel that's usually unmonitored.

The law firm had to take a closer look at IM as clients last year started asking about using that method of communications. After reviewing available products, Collier decided to deploy the Omnipod Pod IM logging service as part of the IM rollout at Dow Lohnes. The service includes virus scanning, file quarantine, administration alerting for all infected file-transmit attempts, foreign language communications, and the ability to view client IM contact information. "The Pod service lets us communicate with any client, regardless of the interface they use," Collier says. "And our secretaries have a quicker way to alert the attorneys about urgent conference calls."

The next step will be to deploy a Web-enabled Pod capability so attorneys can log on to IM from a browser. "Then we won't be locked into a client-server [architecture] because we won't have to visit the attorney at home and load up Pod on his home computer," he says. Sometime this fall, he expects Omnipod to add two-way SMS functionality and Active Directory support. Then an administrator could have quick access to all company IM addresses for changes and upgrades.

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