Instant messaging abbreviated as “IM” or “IMing,” is the transmission of text messages by means of application software in real-time. In simple term it’s one kind of online chat between two or more persons that are transmitted over the internet subject to fulfillment of some protocol.
Each user chooses to complete the thought in mind and click on the “send” option. Instantly the written thoughts reach to the receivers and in consequence he/she also reply to the thought in the same way.
Instant messaging software has been enriched quite dramatically over the years, like now they include “Push technology” which transmits messages character by character in real time. Even popular services providers such as AOL, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger and Apple’s iChat now allow it’s users to have voice messaging, file transfer, clickable hyperlinks and even video chat in addition to text messaging services.
The reason behind the soaring popularity of instant messaging over the ordinary E-mail is the immediate availability of the exchanged messages. Because IM is shorter in size, informal in language and less time consuming than an E-Mail. As the receiver is also logged into the application, then it’s possible to have the instant response also.
Now the question is how to reach the intended receiver of the message if he is not currently available in online. To solve this problem some systems permit messages are sent to the associated email account. In short, both the receiver and sender can settle any thought in a single session by using the instant messaging services, which is not possible in case of E-Mail.
When an user log into the software he or she is able to see a notification containing who are in the online right now, and if there are anyone among them contains in his or her “buddy” list or “friend list”, then the particular user name are shown in characters distinctive from others.
Instant messaging services are provided in two types of technical architecture, depending on the IM protocol, one is peer-to-peer (means direct point-to-point transmission) and another is client-server (messages are retransmitted from the sender to the communication device at a central server).
For instant messaging to work, all the users must be online at the same time and the intended receiver must be willing to accept the instant messages. Because there are provisions for an IM client to decline the offering made by the sender of the message.
When an attempt to send a message to someone who is not in online, or who is reluctant to accept it, then a notification message will appear on the sender’s screen mentioning that the transmission has been failed. If the online software is configured to accept IMs, then it alerts the recipient with a distinctive sound, a window that indicating that an IM has just arrived and providing the recipient with options to accept or reject it or the incoming messages are contained in a separate window.
It was mandatory to use the same software for all the users connected online. Many current clients, however, allow interoperability between networks, including Microsoft’s recently developed Live Messenger.
The language used in Instant Messaging is quite different than what we use in our day to verbal and written communication. It has been shaped in informal and shorter version to save time and cost of internet usage. Each of the sign and characters used in it, have a particular meaning.
Like any other ICT phenomenon, instant messaging are subject to high level of risk, like malicious hackers try to use IM networks as a ground for delivering phishing attempts. They spread out “Poison URLs” and virus-laden file attachments to malfunction the system.
Hackers deliver malicious code through IM in two different ways- delivery of viruses, Trojan horses, or spyware embedded in the infected file, and by delivering the use of tempting texts with a web address that allures the recipient to click on a URL connecting him or her to a website, ultimately which downloads malicious code.
To ensure the security of Instant Messages, the service providers expense a big pie of their budget every year. They have designated team engaged in tackling the security threats as well as take precautionary measures in advance to protect their system from possible attack from outside hackers. They regularly caution their clients to use the secured link, not to click any unknown URLs.
Another fact of Instant messaging has worried guardians regarding it’s over use by the children and teen agers who are more vulnerable to malicious use of it. Even it is alleged that IM including different types of social media network are the major factor behind the upsurge in social violence, cross border militancy where the militant groups from different corner of the globe contact with each other through different social media network.