Comment : Peer to Peer Networks Pose Growing Threat to Businesses

The growing popularity of peer to peer networks - such as Napster - where people share and exchange music pose a growing threat to confidential data integrity within companies.

The possible threat of peer to peer networks is growing because of the increasing move to flexible and remote working, where home and work life is merging.

Without corporate firewalls, home workers can inadvertently disclose confidential corporate data from their laptops in peer to peer file sharing networks.

This was highlighted by the recent case in the US where an employee of Citigroup's ABN Amro Mortgage Group accidentally leaked thousands of mortgage holders' names and security numbers on a popular peer to peer file sharing music web site.

The issues around Sarbannes Oxley (SOX) compliance also makes this an urgent issue for all organisations to address.

The best approach is simply one of education and setting down proper technology usage rules.

Employees often use file sharing sites without fully realising the dangers that these pose to confidential corporate data. Companies need to train their staff to understand the possible dangers of peer to peer networks, enforce good content management practices and utilise effective IT compliance technology that blocks and prevents employees from accessing these types of services.

By offering a single, integrated approach to managing an ever more complex range of IT devices - whether servers, PCs, laptops, PDA's or USB's - IT compliance technology enables firms to keep track of their entire IT inventory, manage and set user standards to IT usage and quickly identify possible security threats. This offers a simple, very cost-effective approach to centrally tracking its disparate IT asset base and to meet increasingly complex corporate compliance and governance rules.

IT compliance systems not only monitor all IT devices, but also user activity across an organisation's entire network, identifies and manages all sources of data and pinpoints all data entry and exit paths across an entire estate.

This includes identifying all hidden files and applications, even if deliberately deleted by the user. A state of the art IT compliance system - such as Themis SIM - manages both IT devices and user activity across the enterprise.

This feature was contributed by Themis Software