- People online are not necessarily who they say they are or seem to be.
- Eavesdropping on your conversations. Unless there is a guarantee of end-to-end encryption, messages could be intercepted and even saved for use offline.
- IM software may be vulnerable to virus or other attack.
- Online chat rooms – accessible through instant messaging – can be undesirable places.
Use instant messaging safely
- Never give out passwords, credit card information or other private data.
- Block strangers. If your software allows it, set up the system so that only people on your ‘allow’ list can contact you.
- Be very wary of disclosing any private information to a stranger you meet via instant messaging. Even apparently innocent information like the name of your employer can be used against you by fraudsters.
- Never click on links that you receive through instant messaging from people that you do not know and trust, and that you have never met in real life.
- Leave your online profile blank, or where you have to enter data to use the system, enter fictitious data.
- Do not use your system or email password to log on to an IM system.
- Unless otherwise stated, IM is not encrypted, so do not use it to transmit information such as credit card numbers or other sensitive information.
- Disable automatic downloads.
- Verify information you receive on IM elsewhere. In particular, check any security ‘advice’ you get.
- Keep your IM software up to date.
- Do not let children use instant messaging chat rooms unsupervised.