Are there any programmes to secure instant messaging?

I know avast! has a shield to do this but I my AntiVir. Can it protect me equally well or are there any (free) programmes that can make instant messaging more secure or is this redundant?
Any thoughts are most welcome.
grampa (:WAV)

Avast Home Edition is Free and includes and IM shield and a P2P Shield in it’s arsenal.

Detection rates aren’t as good as Antivir but Highly rated amoungst users! Check it out at and look at Destop Protection and the Free full featured antivirus.

There are many opinions as to whether or not an IM shield / secure is relevant but at any rate, avast will protect you.

P.S. ZoneAlarm did used to do a Free IM protection program but I think they’ve since got rid of it.


The Windows messenger lets you choose any AV scanner in “tools > options > file transfer”. Try putting there avscan.exe or something, not sure. Of course there are other things you can do to make IM safer, like not running it with admin rights, which I’d say is more important.

thank you both for your ideas.

Of course there are other things you can do to make IM safer, like not running it with admin rights, which I'd say is more important.
I'd really like to do that but my Notebook is formatted to Fat32 and I only have recovery cds. The convert feature really slows down my computer (due to the 512 kb cluster size?) and whenever I convert to NTFS using Paragon PM, my computer crashes at next reboot. So I'm doomed to stay with Fat. Does it make any sense to run a limited account on a Fat32 HD?

@EricEgan: I used Avast! for quite a long time and have always been happy with it. However, I’ve used AntiVir for the past couple of years and have been even happier with it (I went back to avast 2 or 3 times just to check it out again - currently waiting for version 5 and of course CAVS 3 ).
So using Avast is not an option for me at this time.

Thanks for your help,

Yep FAT32 doesn’t support user write permissions, sorry to hear you’re stuck with it, it belongs to a past era, which is fortunate for security. :stuck_out_tongue:

Anyway, messaging itself doesn’t entail so many risks that you can’t control if you’re sensible. The only protection AV programs grant to IM is scanning the received files. I don’t know if you transmit files via IM a lot, but needless to say you should accept files only from people you know and trust. Accepting a file from an unknown source, even if it’s scanned with an AV (which can always miss one nastie), automatically or manually, is playing Russian roulette, not to mention that an unknown party’s offering you a file is quite a suspicious behaviour; you should never accept no matter what protection you (think you) have.

Other risk which IM entails is, just like accepting malicious files, clicking on malicious links. Here it’s all up to your browser and whatever protection you have (AV etc.) for your browser, not the IM program. So as far as I know here it doesn’t matter what IM protection your AV grants you.

If the only thing you’re doing via IM is transmitting text messages as is the main purpose of IM clients, then you don’t have to worry much: text cannot perform attacks. As long as you stick to bare messaging, IM is quite safe.

Finally, there’s another risk, as with any program that accesses the Web, and that’s whatever code vulnerabilities your IM cilent has that can be exploited. Again no AV can protect you here, since all they do is scan files and the attack here would include no files, just code injected directly into memory. The only useful things would be, of course having few or no vulnerabilities in your IM client, and some protection like Comodo Memory Firewall that would stop most of these attacks that your AV can’t protect you against.

(So in answer to your question, Comodo Memory Firewall can secure instant messaging.)

However as far as I know no attack is possible with plain text messaging. The only buffer overflow attack I heard about in IM needed the victim to accept a webcam session invitation. Again, text cannot perform attacks. Like when accepting file, accept invitations to use advanced non-text features (webcam, blackboard etc.) only from known and trusted sources.

ZoneAlarm’s IMSecure is the best for IM protection. It encrypts sessions, blocks links if need be, and it can be integrated with ZoneAlarm antivirus.

BufferZone offers sandboxing for an individual IM client free of charge.Unlike it’s browser sandbox it seems to co-exist with CFP3 ok.Another alternative is to install your IM client within an Altiris virtual layer,both these solutions will prevent any malware infection through messaging.