Changes in network usage show corporate networks must address business and security risks. Malware threat and productivity loss can be addressed by proper assessment.

Social Network and Filesharing Security Concerns Surpass Network Port Patching

Bandwidth usage has increased for social network applications and file sharing within corporate networks, and in turn so rise the concerns for security. However, a Palo Alto Networks study refutes the view that many security concerns can be addressed by fortifying or protecting network port tcp/80. In fact, about half of bandwidth and one third of analyzed applications do not use tcp/80, which means that spot-treating this port will result in missing the bulk of traffic and security incidents.

Social networks and filesharing source of business risks

The increase in social network usage is generally accepted, and PAN’s analysis shows that last year Facebook application bandwidth tripled. Risks have been increasing with social network usage due to heightened levels of trust - social networks have trained users to share everything. This results in the increased popularity of social engineering, which can be used to guess passwords with readily available data about “pets or kids, activities, hobbies, vacations, holiday activities, and other commonly shared information that can be used to reset a password.” Once this occurs, malware is easily spread from a hacked user’s account to their friends, who trust the network often enough to click links unquestioningly. Browser-based file sharing rose to 92 percent of participating organizations’ networks, and P2P fell slightly to 82 percent. These services are used to avoid file size limits in email, under names such as YouSendIt!, and Dropbox.

Easy to use file transfers both good and bad for businesses

The Facebook application usage and bandwidth increase is not just time wasting games - other plug ins include extensions of marketing and service offerings such as fitness brand-builders and other product tie-ins. The practice of filesharing, via browser-based, P2P or other means includes business risks (potential copyright violations and inadvertent data loss or sharing) and security risks. Browser-based file transfer services are uniquely suited to the spread of malware due to its free and anonymous nature, They are easy to use with a link click and can be used remotely for updating programs - benign or malicious.

By Ivory King