Firewall solutions company Palo Alto Networks just released the 2009 edition of its annual Application Usage Risk Report that is looking at what kind of application and web services people use in corporate networks, and guess what: That guy in the cubicle next to you may be downloading videos via Bittorrent right now.

palo alto networks report
Chart by Palo Alto Networks.

Palo Alto Networks analyzed the traffic of more than 60 large organizations, and it found evidence of P2P file sharing in 92% of these cases. One of the companies even had 17 different file sharing apps active on its network, and the most common apps were Bittorrent and Gnutella clients. 76% of these companies had employees that used web-based file sharing like Megaupload or Yousendit.

Why should companies care? Because accidental file sharing is a big threat to corporate security, according to Palo Alto Networks. The company somehow forgot to mention that Bittorrent apps usually don't allow any accidental sharing, but it warned against the threat of web-based file swapping:

"Angry at being laid off? Or moving to a competitor? Launch YouSendIt! and transfer the customer database or the next-generation product plans to an online archive like BoxNet with ease."

Thanks for the suggestion. Of course, there's another issue with P2P, and that's bandwidth. However, it doesn't look like P2P is much of a bandwidth hog in corporate networks. The Palo Alto Networks report claims that "P2P file sharing usage is rampant", but the numbers don't sound all that threatening:

"In terms of bandwidth consumed, P2P file sharing increased dramatically (92%) over the previous report, chewing through 2.3 terabytes or 5% of the total bandwidth viewed across all organizations. From a bandwidth perspective, BitTorrent was the most voracious."

Just as a frame of reference: The report shows that photo and video sites, which include sites like Hulu, consumed twice as much bandwidth as P2P and web-based file sharing together.

The report can be downloaded for free after a quick registration.

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