Video and file-sharing eat up corporate bandwidth: report

Careful management needed on the part of IT departments

The number of people streaming video and sharing files in the workplace has increased exponentially since November 2011, indicating a blurring of the lines between professional and private life, according to a new report.

Based on assessments of raw application traffic from 2,036 organisations worldwide, Palo Alto Networks found that video streaming increased by more than 300 percent between November 2011 and May 2012, now representing 13 percent of all bandwidth consumption.

Meanwhile, peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing bandwidth consumption jumped 700 percent to represent 14 percent of overall bandwidth, growing more than any other application category.

An average of 34 different streaming media applications and 13 browser-based filesharing variants - including MegaUpload, which was taken down in January 2012 - were found on the majority of participating organisations' networks.

While some of these applications do present a security risk, Palo Alto Networks said the news shouldn't be a cause for panic.

"The key to this 'new reality' is not to ignore or even vilify the existence of these applications, but to manage their usage with policies that give today's modern workforce the flexibility they desire without impeding on the business," said Ren Bonvanie, chief marketing officer at Palo Alto Networks.

"Companies are finding that they can successfully implement network security controls that enable web application usage for employees while still ensuring that quality-of-service standards for business-critical applications are met and security threats are managed."

Social networks also now have a well-established presence in organisations, with at least one social network detected on 97 percent of networks, and an average of 29 different social networking applications were found in each participating organisation.

Facebook and Twitter were predictably dominant, but Tumblr and Pinterest have both gained traction in terms of frequency and volume of use, the report found.

Palo Alto Networks' Application Usage and Risk report is available here.

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