IM News: Sprint Takes Its Users to OZ

OZ has announced that Sprint will be using the OZ Mobile IM Gateway and Client to bring access to the 'big three' public IM networks to its mobile users. Also: Akonix and FrontBridge team on a message storage offering; MSN Messenger receives a critical fix in the midst of a bad week; and a controversial adware vendor rolls out its own IM offering.

By Michael Hall | Posted Feb 10, 2005
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Sprint & OZ Partner on Mobile IM

OZ Communications has announced that phone company Sprint is deploying its Mobile IM Gateway & Client product across its nationwide network. The product will allow Sprint mobile users to access the Yahoo!, AIM, and MSN IM networks from their mobile phones.

In an interview with IMPlanet last week, OZ CEO Skuli Mogensen discussed the advantages of OZ's approach, noting that the company cultivates licensed agreements with the IM networks its software operates with, providing an "authentic connection" for users, and a "proper relationship" between his company and the IM networks.

Mogensen also stressed the success of the major public IM networks over what he called "white label communities," IM systems behind corporate firewalls that can't interoperate over the public networks.

Mogensen said his company also has relationships with T-Mobile, Cingular, and AT&T.

MSN Messenger Update Among "Critical" Microsoft Security Fixes, MSN Stumbles with Data Center Issues

Network techs are familiar with the term "ping of death," but a recent Microsoft patch to the MSN and Windows Messenger programs might be called a fix for the "PNG of death."

As part of a large update push, Microsoft released Security Bulletin MS05-009, which addresses a bug in the way several applications, including two Microsoft IM offerings, process images in the PNG format. According to the bulletin:

"An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of an affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights."

The vulnerability has been referred to as an "avatar hole," because one way a malicious person could get an MSN IM user to open a malicious PNG file would be by crafting a buddy icon, or avatar, with a buffer-overflow-inducing payload. Part of the urgency of the update comes from the fact that the flaw doesn't require any special action on the part of the victim besides accepting an incoming message.

Microsoft had problems earlier in the week with a widespread service outage in its MSN messaging service. Spokespeople for the company blamed the outage, the third in the past year, on a data center problem.

Akonix & Frontbridge Partner on Message Storage

Akonix Systems has announced that FrontBridge Technologies has joined its technology partner program. FrontBridge Technologies provides managed messaging services that focus on compliance, continuity and security. The partnership is aimed largely at financial services clients the companies share.

Akonix L7 Enterprise is an IM management tool that works with IM traffic over the AOL, ICQ, MSN and Yahoo! networks as well as enterprise IM systems such as IBM Lotus Instant Messaging and Microsoft Office Live Communications Server. The offering monitors and logs IM traffic, and also provides a security layer to prevent malware attacks. It also offers filters against spim (define).

The FrontBridge Message Archive system provides e-mail logging and archiving, as well as an e-mail continuity offering that ensures the ongoing availability of a Web-based mail application in the event of a primary mail system's failure.

With the Akonix/FrontBridge partnership, customers will be able to add IM archives to existing FrontBridge archival stores. In turn, customers will be able to filter, monitor, and archive a unified record of both e-mail and IM communications within their organizations. That capability is meant to assist in meeting the regulatory requirements imposed the SEC, Sarbanes-Oxley, and HIPAA.

180 Solutions Releases Zango Messenger

180solutions has announced that it has acquired application development company Easy Message and released Zango Messenger. Zango Messenger is a simplified, lightweight multi-network client that includes support for AOL, Yahoo! and MSN.

Beyond offering a simple IM client, Zango acts as both an access key for users to get at promotional Web content, and as a conduit for targeted Web pages, which are opened on user machines daily. According to information from the company, average users will face two or three targeted

Being a new product, Zango Messenger has no track record, but past Zango products (such as the Zango Search Assistant) have been labeled as adware and spyware by tools designed to remove such products, including Microsoft's recently released AntiSpyware product.

180solutions has allegedly also had problems in this area with other members of the Consortium of Anti-Spyware Technology (COAST). Computer Associates left the group earlier this week saying "we are withdrawing from COAST because we believe the organization no longer has the ability to create a consensus for effective anti-spyware standards."

In its own defense, 180solutions has responded to criticism by saying that it changed previous, controversial practices in order to gain admission to COAST.

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