Businesses losing battle against employee apps

Enterprises are struggling to control the use of consumer applications within the workplace, despite the panoply of security tools being used within companies.

According to research from security start-up Palo Alto Networks, nearly half of all bandwidth within corporate environments is being consumed by personal applications such as YouTube, peer-to-peer filesharing and various other consumer applications. Peer-to-peer is a particularly frequent problem, and according to the research, an average of six peer-to-peer applications were found in 92 per cent of the organisations surveyed.

Personal computing on company time

Beware the cyber slackers

Palo Alto’s contention is that today’s security tools are no longer adequate to deal with the modern network. “Firewalls have not seen any innovation in the last 15 years,” said Franklyn Jones, Palo Alto’s director of corporate marketing.

He said that Palo Alto had fixed the firewall “from Ground Zero” to deal with the way that enterprise employees worked. “We decided that what really matters is the application traffic.”

The Palo Alto range of firewalls, which has just been introduced to the UK by distributor Vadition, works by highlighting which applications are being used and who is using them. The company also highlights which applications are high risk. “We have a list of more than 800 applications and have assigned a risk value from one to five for all of them,” said Jones. “Companies can make their own decision whether to allow those applications though – or they may allow them for some users and not others.”

Jones said that most traditional firewalls had only been concerned about the port that was being used and the protocol that was being sent. “Our firewall deals with the application, regardless of port or protocol. It offers a breadth and depth of information that enterprises have never had before,” he said.

Palo Alto firewalls come in two models; the 2000 starts from $6,767and the 4000 from $37,047 depending on configuration.

Although the company was only founded in 2005, it has an impressive technical pedigree. Its chief technical officer, Nir Zuk, worked as CTO of NetScreen as well as being principal engineer at Check Point.

Co-founders Rajiv Batra and Yuming Mao worked at Peribit and NetScreen respectively before working at Juniper.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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