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Risk

4/20/2009
01:07 PM
Keith Ferrell
Keith Ferrell
Commentary
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Apps Bypassing Business Security -- Bigtime!

Those applications your employees use (whether you want them to or not) are making it easier for them to bypass security systems and controls. A new report from firewall company Palo Alto Networks shows just how easy -- and just how serious the problem is.

Those applications your employees use (whether you want them to or not) are making it easier for them to bypass security systems and controls. A new report from firewall company Palo Alto Networks shows just how easy -- and just how serious the problem is.The Application Usage and Risk Report, released semi-annually by firewall company Palo Alto Networks studied 60 companies, with a total of 900,00 users, and found that:

92% of the companies had at least 6 P2P apps on their networks.

Some companies had as many as 17 P2P apps in the system!

76% of the companies has browser-based file sharing apps present, with five apps being the typical presence.

The majority of companies surveyed had apps in place that permit their users to bypass company security controls.

The consequences -- in addition to risks of malware, lost productivity, etc. -- include a whopping loss of bandwidth:

51% of business bandwidth is being consumed by consumer-oriented apps including P2P, social networking, browser file-sharing and toolbars.

Most of these apps are consumer-oriented: and among the consumer orientations hat make them popular is their built-in ability specifically to bypass your business's security tools and security/usage policies,either automatically or with the employee's input.

How bad is the situation?

The average network had 156 applications present.

156! Think about that as you tally the number of legitimate, approved applications you have in place for your employees and their work.

However you decide to handle employee use of networks and outside apps, and whatever your usage policy (assuming you have one and enforce it), the pervasiveness of the problem, the risks it exposes your company to, the sheer amount of bandwidth the apps are consuming all but demand that you take a closer look at your policies, your security infrastructure, the ways your employees may be bypassing each, and the apps they're using to do so.

The complete Palo Alto Networks Applications Usage and Risks report can be downloaded here. (Registration required.)

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