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News

Encrypted peer-to-peer traffic detection

Exinda Networks : 20 November, 2007  (New Product)
New feature on Exinda firewall prevents data leakage from companies through encrypted peer-to-peer communications
Exinda Networks has announced an enhancement to its WAN optimization appliances that helps control a broad range of recreational Internet traffic, such as instant messaging, gaming and downloading files for entertainment, that significantly slows business applications on corporate networks. Exinda's new feature detects and blocks or slows recreational Internet traffic, called encrypted peer-to-peer traffic, that cleverly slips past corporate firewalls, ensuring that business applications are not negatively impacted. Exinda is the only WAN optimization vendor that can detect, classify and control more than 1,000 applications which includes encrypted peer-to-peer traffic.

The ability to detect and control this traffic also saves companies money and keeps employees more productive by not having to wait for business applications to respond. According to a survey conducted by America Online and Salary.com in June, 2005 employers spend $759 billion per year on salaries for which real work was expected, but not actually performed. Web surfing for recreational use was cited as the #1 time waster at work by 44.7 percent of more than 10,000 people polled.

Skype, BitTorrent, MySpace and Facebook are among the most common Web applications that send encrypted peer-to-peer network traffic over corporate networks. Skype, a free software that is used for both business and recreational purposes, offers instant messaging, file transfer and video capabilities and is well known for its ability to circumvent firewalls. BitTorrent is an application most commonly used for social purposes to download large files including movies, TV shows, games and MP3 audio files. MySpace and Facebook are social networking applications for sharing photos, personal profiles, videos and more. Recreational use of these applications are gaining in popularity, negatively impacting business applications. Exinda's appliances can detect, classify and control 98 percent of BitTorrent traffic whereas other WAN optimization vendors allow this traffic to pass undetected or at best only detect and classify half of the rogue traffic.

According to a survey conducted by Ashton, Metzler & Associates in August, 2006, 63 percent of IT professionals see unauthorized use of company networks for instant messaging and 58 percent see unauthorized use for peer-to-peer file sharing. The statistics are likely much higher given that these two types of traffic go highly undetected by most firewalls.

"The recreational use of Skype and BitTorrent has become a serious problem for companies and service providers," said Con Nikolouzakis, chief executive officer of Exinda Networks. "These recreational applications have a way of making business application run as if they were in slow motion. They have been known to crash the network in some instances. It's disruptive to employees and adds unnecessary expense to operate the corporate network."

Nikolouzakis added, "There are situations where encrypted peer-to-peer traffic is used for legitimate business purposes such as conference calls being hosted on Skype. In those instances, it is important to be able to detect and prioritize this traffic rather than restrict it. Until now, WAN optimization vendors have fallen short on properly handling encrypted peer-to-peer traffic."

Skype and BitTorrent traffic were designed to use different network ports and file server IP addresses making it very difficult for firewalls to detect it. Exinda's new feature classifies Skype and BitTorrent traffic using Layer 7 heuristics to detect traffic patterns and apply the proper network policy to control it.

Additionally, Exinda's new heuristics-based classification speeds data at up to 100 times faster than before. Faster classification is helpful in large service provider and enterprise networks handling large amounts of data and numerous applications.
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