The information security officer at a large investment firm was being
pulled in two different directions over instant messaging.
Brian Erdelyi, head of security at Blackmont Capital Inc., needed the
company’s traders and advisors to use an enterprise-level IM for better
security and to meet strict Canadian regulations for storing
communications. His users, however, wanted to be able to message with
clients and colleagues using the more popular AOL and MSN software.
The answer was the gateway that was built into Reuters Messaging 5.0, the
winner in the Enterprise Instant Messaging category of the Datamation
Product of the Year 2006 awards. The gateway, new to this version of
Reuters Messaging, was designed to allow users to communicate seamlessly
with people using AOL’s and MSN’s instant messaging products.
”There has been a huge increase in our investment advisors needing to
communicate with their clients over MSN and AOL because that’s what their
clients are using,” says Erdelyi, who safeguards Blackmont Capital’s 650
employees working in 11 cities across Canada. ”The gateway was exciting.
I had a lot of users at the time and some high-profile users wanting to
communicate with their clients who were on one of those two networks. I
was able to give them a solution they were comfortable with and still
adhere to our regulatory requirements.”
Reuters, long known as a media outlet, has turned some of its attention
to supplying information to the financial markets. The company first
released Reuters Messaging in 2002, designing it as a specialized product
for the financial sector. The November 2005 release of Version 5.0
brought the addition of hosted, secure chat rooms that can connect to
internal and external communities. It also added the gateway to MSN
Messenger and AOL services.
”Why should we care to communicate with the consumer world?” asks Eran
Barak, the global head of strategy for Reuters, which is based in London.
”There’s professional and personal reasons. There are some professionals
who still use consumer IM, not because it’s a good fit to their needs but
because it was the only product available at the time.”
The drawback to connecting with consumer IM services is the loss of some
Security is a major reason that many companies implement enterprise IM
packages. Messages traveling across a closed IM network can be encrypted,
and there’s added assurance because the messages don’t travel across a
public — and more easily accessed — network. Once an enterprise IM
service connects with an open, consumer service, some of that security is
lost, according to industry analysts.
”There’s always a a tradeoff between [security] and the desire to
communicate,” says Dr. Sarah Radicati, president and CEO of The Radicati
Group, Inc., a technology market research firm based in Palo Alto, Calif.
”What Reuters is doing correctly is giving people the choice…
Companies need a trade off. There are going to be situations where you
want to have a communication in a most secure manner, and then there will
be times when you want to have initial contact and that doesn’t have to
be as secure or regulated and that can happen on these other networks.
”It always comes down to company policy,” she adds.
And Erdelyi agrees that it’s a matter of having policies in place to add
on another layer of security. Blackmont Capital has policies governing
what kinds of information can and can’t be transmitted over email and
”Unfortunately [when communicating with public IM services] we do lose
some security,” he says. ”Normally, if we were communicating with
another Reuters Messaging user, the communication would be encrypted.
However, when we communicate with the public networks, it’s not encrypted
and very similar to email. It worried me from the perspective that I
don’t want our advisors to be putting confidential information in there
that could be captured in transit. But just like with email, we’re not
supposed to be disclosing confidential information through email. So we
treat IM in the same way we treat email, and our policies don’t allow the
transmittal of confidential information.”
Erdelyi also notes that Reuters Messaging 5.0 allows him to easily
capture and store IM communications, keeping the company compliant with
”That’s one of the greatest advantages for me. We are able to log all of
those messages,” he says, adding that the Reuters product captures the
messages and then they store it in their own email archiving system. ”We
wrote a program that extracts all of the messages from the Reuters log
server and we forward that to our email archive. Now our compliance
officers see the messages no differently than they see the email.”
Radicati says Reuters will start to see some increased competition from
the big three public IM players — MSN, AOL and Yahoo, which she predicts
will soon begin adding more security and regulatory-based features.
Despite that increased competition, she says Reuters is well situated to
deal with it.
”They certainly have a good product,” says Radicati. ”They have a
certain command of their market, as well. In several sectors, they have
pretty strong market penetration.”
In the race for Datamation’s Product of the Year award, IM Manager
SMARTGig 6000 from Imlogic, Inc. came in second. In third place was e/Pop
IM Server 3.0 from WiredRed Software, and Perimeter Manager for IM from
Postini, Inc. came in fourth.