IM – Dangers of Instant Messaging

There are some pitfalls that you must be aware of when you take the plunge into the world of IM. Fortunately, a good helping of common sense is usually all you need to stay safe.

Stranger Danger - Kids and teens love instant messaging for keeping in touch with their friends. However, most IM software allows users to create profiles and add new s from around the world. This makes it easier for strangers to communicate with youngsters. To prevent this, supervise your childrens online activites, or use one of the IM programs that allows you to manage your childrens s. Windows Live Messenger coupled with the family safety plugin allows you to approve any new individual before your children can communicate with them.

Evesdropping - Instant messaging conversations feel 'private' but it is worth remembering that anything you type is sent in plain text. Don't ever be tempted to send credit or debit card details. For individuals or corporations who want a greater degree of privacy, special encryption software can be used to secure IM conversations.

Viruses - "OMG you look so stupid in this photo" goes the message and shortly after you're offered a photo for download. Before you start thinking who got hold of your last set of Christmas party snaps, keep in mind that several nasty viruses hijack popular instant messaging clients and send false messages out, encouraging you to download infected files. Just because the file is from someone you know does not mean you can trust it. Take care with downloaded files on IM just as you do on the internet.