A research report released by Palo Alto Networks last month describes trends in application traffic that the vendor observed crossing their enterprise firewalls in more than 1,200 of their customer prospects. This is the latest and largest monitoring of applications trends from the company, and it provides some interesting tidbits. For example:
Social networking is complementary to instant messaging, not replacing it. IM traffic, as a percentage of overall traffic has more than doubled, and webmail and social networking traffic has increased nearly five fold. Facebook accounts for 80% of social networking bandwidth and Twitter just three percent.
Almost half of applications traffic is hidden from view. The company observed that applications use either port-hopping techniques (think Skype or other P2P apps) or hide behind encrypted SSL port 443 more than 40% of the total traffic. This means that apps are getting more agile and difficult to block by enterprises.
Browser-based file transfer apps continue to grow and surpass P2P networking in terms of traffic patterns.
"This data should be a wake-up call for IT teams who assume encrypted traffic is mainly HTTPS or for those who still believe that social networking usage is not taking place on their corporate networks," said Rene Bonvanie, vice-president of marketing at Palo Alto Networks.
You can download the Application Usage and Risk Report report here. Palo Alto also maintains a worthy reference work called Applipedia, where it catalogs the behavior of more than 1,200 different applications.