File transfers through instant messaging (IM) is one of the causes of vulnerabilities in a network. It is so easy to send files to each other via IM — it is just a couple of clicks away. Before you know it, your pictures are transferred to your online buddy’s computer and vice versa. What network administrators do sometimes is tighten the security by setting up a firewall that restricts it.
There is a product called Aladdin eSafe which blocks file transfers through IM. What happens is that the messages still get through but no file transfers happen. The following IM protocols are assessed by the software: ICQ/AOL Messenger, MSN Messenger, Windows Messenger and Yahoo Messenger. It could also block Skype.
eSafe is targeted to help the organizations that will use it in terms of increasing the productivity of the people. By limiting or blocking file transfers, the people will have less distractions and so they could focus on working. They could keep on using IM in order to communicate with each other.
First and foremost, you could try to make sure that you are clear about your company’s policy on the use of IM software. The way you deal with the people involved would be critical because they are the ones who will be directly affected. As such, you might try recommending other ways of sending files like maybe through email or maybe you could have a file server of sorts but to determine how to limit access might be the difficult part.