January 20 2004. Widespread abuse of instant messaging by workers using it to gossip, gripe about employers and customers, make sexual advances etc has been revealed by a survey carried out by web security specialists Blue Coat Systems. Almost 50 per cent of respondents to an online questionnaire admitted that they had used abusive language in IM conversations, while 40 per cent admitted using it to conspire with colleagues during conference calls. Almost 60 per cent did not believe or were unsure whether IM conversations could be monitored by their employers.

Blue Coat has published a new guide, "An Internet usage policy to combat new business challenges," which is available free from