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FaceTime Vantage Highlights Need for Secure Communications

As companies use new forms of communication and collaboration technology, they face new security threats and compliance regulations. It was only a few years ago that IT managers had to be persuaded to protect their instant messaging applications from viruses, spam (sometimes called spim) and inappropriate content; and to ensure that all chat messages abided by the same rules as email when it came to regulatory compliance.Now, those same IT managers are trying to decide which other communications applications they need to worry about, including Voice over IP (VoIP), conferencing, messaging and group chat. From a practical perspective, there may be little difference between a conference call and an email discussion; I'm not an attorney, but it's hard to see why both couldn't be subject to compliance regulation (including statues around privacy, information protection, and Chinese walls) and legal discovery (making all digital documents available in the case of a lawsuit). And then there's the small issue of intellectual property-protecting what does and doesn't leave the virtual corporate walls. The ante just gets upped when you throw in unified communications applications like Microsoft OCS and Lotus Sametime.

FaceTime Communications, a longtime leader in IM management, recently rebranded its flagship technology and expanded it to cover UC applications. FaceTime's new Vantage software is built on FaceTime's IMAuditor platform. For Microsoft applications, it includes compliance disclaimers, ethical walls, archiving and auditing for OCS Group Chat; archiving and reporting for Microsoft Live Meeting; customizable "Poison Room" policies for ethical-wall enforcement in Live Meeting conferences; OCS session data recording and reporting and Call Admission Control policy management and reporting.

For IBM Lotus Sametime, Vantage supports logging and auditing announcements, and ethical-wall, custom disclaimers, and file transfer support. News is coming soon around new support for Cisco Unified Personal Communicator.

Vantage also enables companies to allow encrypted Skype traffic to be transmitted and received while the system logs and reviews all messages according to company policy. If employees use unsanctioned content in a Skype conversation, for instance, the text can be automatically replaced with a policy warning; it might change "I can make you a lot of money on this," to "the message cannot be sent due to company policy." Vantage also lets IT control the use of specific Skype features (file transfers, voice access, videoconferencing, etc.) and integrates with Microsoft's Active Directory to link Skype buddy names to individual employees.

IT managers have plenty on their plates just deciding on a communications vendor or vendors, never mind deploying and integrating the tools for maximum productivity and efficiency. But as they do so, they must consider the compliance and legal costs, too--and make sure they are protected against any threats, whether they come from without or within.