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Foxes in the Henhouse: Are File Sharing Employees Putting Your Company at Risk?

Here at Island Technologies, we take a lighthearted approach to life — as we hope you find evident in the general tone of our blog posts.  However, today’s topic is no laughing matter: Your employees could be making unauthorized use of your business network in ways that not only reduce productivity — they could be putting your company at risk of financial and even legal penalties.  If your company network is connected to the Internet, you should read this post now!

Remember Napster, the program that ushered in the file sharing revolution at the turn of the Millennium?  Those frontier days of point-to-point sharing of (relatively tiny) MP3 files are long gone; Napster and its ilk have been replaced by decentralized BitTorrent systems which allow modern file traders to swap today’s media of choice: Multi-gigabyte video files, which are often a thousand times larger than MP3 files.

The default configuration for BitTorrent client software is to upload and download multiple file fragments, for multiple files, with thousands of other users simultaneously.  This means lots of traffic on your internal network and on your Internet connection, which can cause your data transfer rates to slow to a crawl.

Case in point: One of Island’s long-term clients recently contracted us to diagnose what was wrong with their network, which was so slow and buggy that the company was ready to replace all their network hardware and cabling (not a cheap option).  It turned out that a single user on the company network was using a BitTorrent client to swap files…after we locked down the network to prevent file sharing, the client’s network performance skyrocketed.

Poky network performance is bad enough for business…but if the files being traded contain copyrighted material (as is almost always the case), your business is at risk of legal repercussions, including financial damages and even prosecution!

Here’s another recent case study from our client files: One of our customers just had to fork over $200 to their corporate ISP, Charter Communications, to settle a copyright infringement claim based on the file trading activities of one of their employees.  Our client is now on Charter’s watch list, with the threat of permanent revocation of services hanging over them.

This copyright liability claim was, interestingly enough, an automated notification that Charter delivered to our client via email…the ISP was acting on the behalf of an unaffiliated law firm.  Take it as gospel that the days of hiding behind your ISP’s privacy policies are over, friends!

As a committed, hardworking business owner, we know you want and need to protect yourself against the above scenarios, while keeping your employees and their computers focused on productive work (and not on downloading Season Two of Downton Abbey)…you can rest assured that Island Technologies can help you do that, with a minimum of fuss and expense.

Our qualified engineers can configure your network devices to prohibit file sharing traffic,  limit end-user access to prevent “bandwidth hogging,” prevent unauthorized access from outside your network, and block end-user access to websites and services unrelated to work.  Island can also set up recurring monitoring and analysis of your network traffic to determine new threats as they arise.  And if your current network setup isn’t up to such tasks, we can provide expert consulting on what upgrades best meet your needs, get you the best prices on new equipment, and install and configure it for you, too!

We’re not kidding when we say that your network security needs a second look.  If you have any concerns about your network, please give us a call at 818.832.2310 for a complimentary phone consultation with one of our network security engineers.

In closing, let us leave you with a new twist on an old quote: Sharing isn’t always caring.

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