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IM/P2P Security Threats against Corporate Networks Rise
April 5, 2005
Thomas Mennecke
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On March 24, 2005, Slyck reported that a large majority of corporate networks – a stunning 49% - had no security policy with regards to the use of P2P or IM (Instant Messaging) programs. Unregulated use of either networking programs by the computer unsavvy can lead to a wide array of problems, including confrontations with the copyright industry, spyware and adware infestation.

Compounding this issue is two new reports from security firms IMlogic and Akonix Systems that state the number of attacks has grown dramatically over the last year.

Although the research was conducted independently, the results are comparable. IMlogic found the number of threats against IM and P2P networks via viruses, worms, spam over IM/malware and phishing rose by 250% from one year ago. Similarly, Akonix Systems witness a more than 400% increase in the number of threats against P2P and IM networks in the same amount of time.

According to IMlogic, administrators reported an 271% increase in the amount of attacks against their corporate networks.

“Since the start of 2005, IM networks have been on the receiving end of an unprecedented barrage of security attacks," said Francis Costello, chief marketing officer at Akonix Systems. "Virus writers, hackers and scammers are becoming more sophisticated in their approach to vulnerable, insecure IM clients and networks, distributing not just viruses and malware, but putting together blended attacks and phishing scams. Unmanaged and unauthorized use of IM within enterprise networks presents an increasingly serious threat to corporate security."

Interestingly, IMlogic found that 75% of all attacks against IM networks were against the MSN Messenger client, Windows Messenger client and the MSN Network. Only 11% of reported incidents were against the AOL IM client, the AOL IM Network and the ICQ Network.

The unauthorized use of P2P and IM clients in the work place has proven costly to corporate networks over the last several years. With employees improperly utilizing the software, networks are exposed to shared hard drives and costly spyware infiltration. While simply banning P2P clients in the workplace can easily control file-sharing vulnerabilities, this is not necessarily the case with IM clients. Since IM clients have a growing use in the workplace, the vulnerabilities corporate networks face are not likely to disappear any time soon. From IMlogic's report:

“IM uses a real-time protocol, which enables the rapid proliferation of IM malware, making detection, quarantine, and response a challenge for corporate environments. Given the centralized topology of IM networks, IM worms have an immediate transport mechanism to vulnerable hosts and spread rapidly across public and private networks. Enterprise customers of IMlogic report that IM worms can infect the majority of vulnerable machines in corporate environments without specific IT policy or IT security in place to protect against IM and P2P threats. The IMlogic Threat Center expects that IM attacks will continue to spread rapidly given the real-time nature of the transport protocol and the lack of IT network security for real-time protection and quarantine.”

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Technology News :: Security

You can read IMLogic's press release here.

You can read Akonix's press release here.

You can discuss this article here - 5 replies

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