MessageLabs has today launched encrypted IM (instant-message) software, targeting companies that use consumer IM clients for collaboration and document sharing.

The company's EIM (Enterprise Instant Messenger) is derived from MessageLabs' October acquisition of Omnipod Inc, which focused on IM and file-transfer services, said David Hahn, group product manager.

The software addresses some of the concerns raised around increased use of IM in the enterprise, such as confidentiality, compliance and intellectual-property leaks.

EIM is compatible with IM software from AO, Yahoo and Microsoft. However, encrypted messages can be sent only using the private IM network provided by the software.

EIM offers reporting and management functions through an administration console. An administrator can restrict the IM networks that employees use and control their screen names. EIM can log and archive chat for compliance requirements, Hahn said.

Within the next year, MessageLabs will release a "hygiene" service that scans IM traffic on different clients for malware and "spim" (unsolicited chat messages from unknown users), Shaw said.

EIM comes in three versions. Connect, the most basic package, provides secure chat on a private domain. Communicate adds logging, archiving, file sharing and compatibility with AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo.

The highest level package, Collaborate, offers integration with collaboration software from WebEx Communications. and, Shaw said.

Pricing is per user per month, and ranges from $2 to $7 depending on the number of users and the package selected, he said.