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Uses and dangers of peer-to-peer and instant messaging in a business environment
Quaden T, Furnell SM, Papadaki M, Pinkney G
Advances in Network & Communication Engineering 3, pp203-211, 2006
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Peer-to-peer (P2P) and instant messaging (IM) applications have become very popular ways of downloading the newest media files and to chat with friends. When introduced to a business environment and not properly managed these applications present the business with new risks that might not be accounted for. This research paper focuses on the dangers of P2P and IM applications from the perspective of an organisation and discusses some measurements that can be taken to minimise these. It was found that both IM and P2P applications open up holes for all kinds of malware to enter the corporate network. Furthermore due to the nature of the majority of content downloaded from P2P networks (copyrighted files and inappropriate material) a business might be held liable for illegal or inappropriate material downloaded by its employees. Even though, when properly managed, IM software can greatly increase business performance, if unmanaged can lead to incidents such as data or even identity theft/spoofing. There are several ways to minimise or prevent the risks of using such applications. Well-defined security policies can help educate users of the risks; management software helps detect, block or manage IM & P2P applications; and some companies even offer Enterprise IM solutions.

Quaden T, Furnell SM, Papadaki M, Pinkney G