Report Looks At Social Application Use and Potential Corporate Risks

Report Looks At Social Application Use and Potential Corporate Risks

Report Looks At Social Application Use and Potential Corporate Risks

The latest edition of Application Usage and Risk Report, published by Palo Alto Networks, has been released.  The report brings attention to a number of practices occurring on office computers, which fall outside of normal company use.

The report assess the risks associate with programs, the pervasiveness of such programs, and the impact such programs have on productivity.  While many of these programs such as Facebook, file-sharing applications, and webmail can enhance business performance, they also introduce a number of outside risks to company property and privacy.

Inbound risks associated with web-based applications include the introduction of malware or security exploits into the company network.  The report also notes outbound risks such as data loss and sharing of private or propriety data.  One problem the report found was IT departments were finding it difficult to introduce and enforce policies that allow applications such as these to help enhance corporate productivity while limiting the company’s network security risks.

Palo Alto Network found that file-sharing application such as RapidShare, MegaUpload, or MediaFire were present in 96% of the organizations studied.  The use of these programs highlight the increasing technological savvy of corporate workers, however their use also poses increased security risks including leaked data and the introduction of malware to company networks.

It was no surprise that Facebook use was present in nearly all corporate environments.  What was surprising was what the traffic was doing.  Nearly 88% of all Facebook traffic during the study was made by employees watching Facebook pages.  Users were not involved in downloading or sharing information, meaning the only real risk most Facebook use represented was a loss in productivity.  The number of office Facebook users playing games was much lower than expected showing only 5% of Facebook traffic was directed to games such as Farmville.

The report sums up the technological difficulties of using such programs in the corporate environment, but also points out the many legitimate business uses that have IT departments scrambling for a way to ensure network integrity, while taking advantage of the possibilities outside tools offer in the corporate setting.

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