What is Instant Messaging? 03 01

Instant messaging (IM) is a real time text based communication between two or more people connected over a network like the Internet. Instant message has became very popular, with this you can interact with people in a real time environment and you can keep the list of family and friends on your contact list and can communicate as long as  the person is online.


Internet Chat is one of the ways to communicate with the people  live,by way of  text messages which are seen immediately by the person who is online at the other end, even view the messages of all contacts/friends/family who are using online chat "room". It is a friendly activity, and it is very popular, this service is mostly used by the younger generation, to meet and talk with their friends and establishing relationships.

SMS based Text Messaging:

Text messaging,  also known as "texting", refers to the exchange of brief written messages between mobile phones over cellular networks. The messages may include images, video, and sound content (known as MMS messages). Individual messages are referred to as "text messages" or "texts". The most common application of the service is person-to-person messaging.

Commonly used chat applications

Skype is a software application that allows users to make voice and calls over the Internet.

Yahoo! Messenger is provided free of charge and can be downloaded and used with a generic "Yahoo! ID" which also allows access to other Yahoo! services, such as Yahoo! Mail, where users can be automatically notified when they receive new email. Yahoo! also offers PC-PC, PC-Phone and Phone-to-PC service, file transfers, webcam hosting, text messaging service, and chat rooms in various categories.

It is a free Windows and mac web-based application for instant messaging and voice over internet protocol.Their is also an offline messaging facility in  Google Talk. This allows users to send messages to their contacts, even if they are not signed in. They will receive the messages when they next go online even if the user who has sent  is offline.

Internet Relay Chat is a text-based chat system that allows millions of people around the world to communicate in real time. It is a form of real-time Internet text messaging (chat) or synchronous conferencing. It is mainly designed for group communication in discussion forums, called channels.


It is one of the most popular chat application , it also has an  email service.

It is an Instant Messaging program which supports multiple IM services, including Yahoo! Messenger,AIM, ICQ, MySpaceIM, Facebook Chat ,it is based on the free and open source library libpurple created by the software developers of Pidgin.

  • There are some more chat applications like ICQ, Paltalk, Campfire, Windows Live Messenger, Pidgin etc.

Features of Instant Messengers

  • Instant text messaging
  • Video chat using Webcam
  • Voice chat
  • Sharing  files
  • Chats and buddy list in one screen
  • Add and manage buddies
  • Recent chat history
  • Send/Receive offline messages
  • Multiple languages
  • Multi-party video chat and Video messaging
  • Some of the chat applications do not require installation, we can directly chat by accessing the site through browser.

Types of chat rooms

Chat can be done in public rooms, open to anyone, or private rooms where only those of the community can enter .

Common chat rooms are as follows

  • Business chat room
  • Single chat room
  • Stranger chat room
  • Romance chat room
  • Human interest chat room
  • Family chat room
  • Political chat room

And there are many more chat rooms available in the intstant messenger applications

Risks and threats by using chatting applications

Although instant messaging delivers many benefits, it also carries with it certain risks and liabilities.

Security Risks

Crackers (malicious "hacker" or blackhat hacker) have consistently used IM networks as vectors for delivering phishing attempts, "poison URLs", and virus-laden file attachments. For example IM used to infect computers with spyware, viruses, trojans, worms

Compliance risks

In addition to the malicious code threat, the use of instant messaging at work also creates a risk of non-compliance to laws and regulations governing the use of electronic communications in businesses.

Inappropriate use

Organizations of all types must protect themselves from the liability of their employees' inappropriate use of IM. The informal, immediate, and ostensibly anonymous nature of instant messaging makes it a candidate for abuse in the workplace.


Risk:  Online strangers

Cyber criminals or strangers hide their identity through false name and age.  Even  grown up people may pretend to be a child/teenager.
tip2.png Be care full before choosing an online friend. Try to not reveal all your personal details to  whom you meet online. Use nickname for yourself and hide your personal details from  strangers.

Risk: Revealing personal information

Children while chatting with their friends or other person may sometimes share their private or personal information like their name, school address, house address, and phone numbers through text messages. The information which they have shared can be viewed by other people who are in online and some times it may sent to wrong address. The persons who receive the information may misuse it.

tip2.png Take your time and make sure that you are sending it to right address. Also cross check if you are chatting with the right person who is responsible enough to access those details.

Risk: Spim

Spim (spam on IM) is nothing but spam through Instant Messages. This may be posted periodically by  strangers which contain advertisements or web links. These links may contain malicious software, viruses and worms.

tip2.png Do not open the spim messages as it might inject malicious code into your PC. Always use updated IM and Firewall versions. Be conscious before clicking on the link, because it may contain spyware or malicious code.

Risk: Online Predators

Online Predators take advantage to build online relationships with inexperienced young people or children.  They will try to convince  children in providing their personal information. Children feel that they are aware of the dangers of predators, but in reality, they are quite naive about online relationships. 

tip2.png You should be aware that they should not give out information about themselves on net. Never open, accept or download a file in IM from strangers and also do not set up  face-to-face meetings.


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