Nearly three quarters of UK businesses have banned the use of instant messaging (IM) because of security concerns, reports IM supplier, ProcessOne.

The research highlighted that 88 percent of IT directors were concerned about the security risks created by employees using Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and other IM services, with 56 percent citing the loss of sensitive business information as a primary concern.

However, despite this, only 12 percent of those surveyed said that their company kept an audit trail of IM messages sent by employees using free public IM software.

The research also shows that 74 percent of those surveyed think IM could provide valuable collaboration benefits to their organisation. According to ProcessOne, the research indicates that currently security fears are overriding the opportunity that UK businesses have to increase collaboration and business productivity.

"It is a shame that more businesses in the UK aren't taking advantage of the benefits that instant messaging can bring," said Mickaël Rémond, CEO of ProcessOne.

"Many organisations are torn between wanting to maximise security or gain collaboration and productivity benefits, and clearly maintaining security is winning at this point. However, businesses need to ask themselves whether taking such a knee-jerk reaction as completely banning the use of IM is really the best option for the company.

"Clearly, everyone recognises the benefits that IM can bring. However, the challenge will be for businesses to look for strategies that enable them to reap the rewards without putting themselves at risk of a security breach," added Rémond.

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