The Web 2.0 Threat

This article originally appeared in Securities Industry News.

As the Web 2.0 movement makes interactive applications and social networks such as Facebook ubiquitous on employees’ desktop computers, financial firms are facing the daunting task of monitoring these so-called greynets.

Instant messaging security vendor FaceTime Communications estimates that there are more than 600 greynets worldwide, a number that will climb past 1,000 by the end of the year. These networks are called greynets because the peer-to-peer applications they are composed of operate in the shadows, without company authorization, and are difficult to police. According to a recent survey by FaceTime’s Security Labs research unit, 90 percent of IT managers have experienced a greynet-related security incident in the last six months–despite deploying firewalls and intrusion prevention systems.

On average, IT managers spent $289,000 in 2007 to repair company computers infected by malware attacks over greynets, compared to $130,000 the previous year, according to the study. Greynet applications include IM as well as file-sharing, collaboration and other Web 2.0 tools. Some of the applications need to be downloaded; others load as a Web page, pop-up window or widget.

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