Instant messaging (IM) allows us to chat in real time over the internet and on a network.
Unlike emails which are used to communicate with the recipient whether online or offline, Instant messaging is a real-time communication medium. It is used for both personal and professional purposes; many companies use it as productivity software.
The most common IM providers are Windows Live Messenger (formerly MSN), Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk, AOL Instant Messenger and Trillian. These messengers allow you to send and receive messages from your online friends anywhere in the world. It is a great way to stay in touch with people, but along with it comes added risk factors. One must be careful while using these online communication tools as they can be a breach of privacy.
Instant Messaging has changed the way of how users communicate, but its benefits cannot outweigh its risks. The more users, the more chances for security holes, as it is difficult to control access and block ports when they are dynamic.
Home users are more at risk as they are not tech savvy and unable to foresee the risk involved. Many times they do not have an updated anti-virus which can protect them. Therefore, one should first get an anti-virus installed with updated definitions and then use IM. Also, taking backup of the data is a good idea to be secure.
To sum up, I can say that indeed Instant Messaging is a convenient way to stay in touch with family and friends, but there is always a risk involved. One can use it when required, with an anti-virus installed to stay safe. IM can act as a backdoor entry for hackers thus leading to exploitation through data and other security vulnerabilities.