Beyond the Music: Peer-to-Peer File-Sharing Web Sites Grow 300 Percent, Reports Websense Inc.
Posted Jan 31, 2003

In the wake of Napster, peer-to-peer (P2P) networks have moved beyond trading MP3s into swapping anything from the latest episode of the "Sopranos" to popular video games, reports Websense Inc.  This diversity of content is not only driving the creation of new P2P Web sites and applications, but also creating bandwidth, legal, and security issues for corporations worldwide. In fact, the number of P2P file sharing Web pages has increased more than 300 percent in the last 12 months, totaling more than 89,000 Web pages. Additionally, there are more than 130 unique P2P applications, such as KaZaa, Grokster and others, according to Websense, the a leading provider of employee Internet management (EIM) software.

While trading MP3s remains a popular activity among P2P users, other content is gaining ground on music. According to the research firm The Yankee Group, more than 5 billion music files were downloaded from P2P networks last year, yet more than 5 million video game downloads also occurred, according to game developer Trymedia. In addition, between 400,000 and 600,000 copies of movies are downloaded each day, according to consulting firm Viant, and approximately 3 million users download favorite TV shows from KaZaa every day.

Many employees use their office Internet connections to download P2P files, because less than 17 percent of Americans with Internet connections have high-speed access at home, according to Jupiter Media Metrix.  Yet, despite this problem, 64 percent of companies do not monitor music or video downloads, according to a recent CIO survey.

Websense Enterprise currently enables companies to manage P2P file sharing by blocking employee access to P2P Web sites. The next-generation of Websense software, v5 to be released in March 2003, will provide dynamic protocol management tools, enabling IT managers to manage or block employee access to P2P protocols. The protocols will be updated daily via automatic database downloads.  In addition, Websense Enterprise v5 will also offer an add-on module called Client Application Manager (CAM) which will allow IT administrators to select and manage which applications can run on individual desktops, helping employers curb the launch of P2P applications on employee workstations.