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Peer to peer networking is entering the corporate mainstream but users will need convincing that security concerns can be addressed.

That's one of the main conclusions of a study by industry analysts Frost & Sullivan, US Enterprise Peer-to-Peer Networking Markets, which estimated that 61,400 enterprise users have access to peer-to-peer (P2P) networks and this figure will rise to 6.2 million by 2007.

Revenues for the market will reach $42.8 million this year and will grow to an estimated $4.53 billion by 2007.

Firms such as Sun Microsystems are actively involved in attempts to develop a common platform for P2P applications and protocols, and Intel has publicly backed the approach.

Frost & Sullivan reports that this backing is lending credibility to the market and taking its image away from the popular perception of P2P as a way to trade MP3 or digital media, often without the permission of copyright owners.

However a legacy of the early underground use of P2P networks is that network managers need convincing such distributed systems can be secured to prevent digital asset theft.

Jarad Carleton, Frost & Sullivan research analyst, said market participants would need to devote "significant resources" to educating the market about P2P security features, as well as the potential benefits of adopting the architecture.

A few little known firms, such as Endeavors Technology, have released SSL-based security technology for corporate applications while other firms are adopting the popular Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) package in order to securely exchange data between participants in a P2P network.

We spokes to two respected UK security UK consultancies, Information Risk Management and MIS Corporate, and they told us that peer to peer networks were more straightforwardly set up over trusted private networks. This approach has been successfully used for some time in the military.

Setting up a P2P network over an untrusted network, such as the Internet, creates practical difficulties in setting up a firewall, for example, and also means that individual clients are given more authority than fits with a firm's security policy. ®

External Links

Frost & Sullivan study: US Enterprise Peer-to-Peer Networking Markets

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