Palo Alto Networks has released its latest Application Usage and Risk Report. Palo Alto offers a "next generation" firewall that gives administrators the option to block specific applications (see our previous coverage). It also tracks what web sites and applications are most popular. Its annual report gives insight into worker social media behavior. Our coverage of last year's report is here.Security vendor
Web Mail and Instant Message Rampant
Web mail and instant messaging were the most popular web applications used world-wide. Gmail is the most popular web mail client, but Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail are still in widespread use. Yahoo! Messenger is the most popular instant messenger. However, Facebook Mail and Facebook Chat are gaining in both categories.
Facebook Dominates Social Networking
According to the report, Facebook traffic is 500% greater than the other 47 social networks Palo Alto looked at combined. Most people seem to be passive users of Facebook at work. Posting and playing games takes up very little traffic.
Palo Alto warns that even a read-only Facebook can still be dangerous in terms of lost productivity and malware injection. The company also looks to the 2010 Verizon Data Breach Report for another example of social media danger. "Social networking sites can help uncover corporate roles or
answers to security questions," the report read. "Hijacked social networking user credentials can be used to convince a user to click on a URL with embedded malware."
We've examined the question of whether to block Facebook in the workplace previously.
Filesharing Shifting to the Browswer
Palo Alto reports that file sharing at work is moving away from peer-to-peer applications such as Bittorrent or Gnutella clients in favor of web based file sharing. Windows Live SkyDrive, Docstoc and Megaupload are the most popular. Of these, Megaupload eats up the most bandwidth.
Although browser based file sharing is becoming more common, peer-to-peer still uses the lion's share of bandwidth.
10% of the Applications Found Can be Considered "Enterprise Cloud"
There's also an increased use of web based tools for work. In some cases, these are officially sanctioned. Web conferencing tools like WebEX and CRM services like Salesforce.com are exceedingly common. We recently looked at this trend here.
App Use is Homogeneous Across Geographies
Perhaps the most interesting finding is that app usage varied very little from country to country. Palo Alto surveyed bandwidth data from 723 countries around the world and found app usage fairly homogeneous. There were a few regional differences, for example the Spanish social network Tuenti is very popular in Spain, but overall usage patterns were similar throughout the world.