In many different environments, instant messenger (IM) is going from strength to strength. Versatile and suitable for both social purposes and work, the power of IM is a real-time replacement for email.


Instant Messenger vs Email

Unlike email, users are able to see if people from their contact lists are online, allowing for a more streamlined form of communication. It also offers a level of informality that email often misses out on, meaning that users can get to the point more quickly. However, in a work environment, due to this ‘casualness’ IM can easily become a distraction for employees.


Vulnerability to malware and viruses

In order to infect your device, a cybercriminal will need to transfer a malicious file to you, either directly, or for you to follow a link to download the virus yourself. As both IM and email allow for the transfer of files and sharing of links, both are potentially open to this threat.


One way that the most prolific IM spam campaigns work is by tricking you into thinking they’re a friend, and that any link or file they’re sharing with you is not suspicious. Typically, an account with a realistic name and profile photo offers to show you a “shocking picture” or “exciting video.” With previous examples including a message along the lines of “omg, is this you?” along with the link to (apparently) a YouTube video. Only to find that the link contains a virus.  Many Facebook users have been tricked by this scheme because this message looks like it was sent by one of the victim’s contacts.

Once the Facebook user has clicked on this infected link, the virus enters their system. In addition to this, the same message is usually spread to the victim’s contact list and tricking other users, continuing the cycle.


When dealing with IM, spam, viruses and malware are valid concerns. However, if you’re up-to-date on your anti-virus software, such as MailCleaner, then we will be able to protect you against malware.


Protect yourself from IM and email-based malware and viruses with MailCleaner. Visit our product pages for more information.

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