Corporations prepare for start of Olympics

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With the start of the Olympics hours away, security experts expect companies to see an increase in bandwidth use, as well as an increase in potential securities risks, as employees watch the sporting events via streaming video.

NBCOlympics.com will be providing more than 2,200 hours of live coverage from Beijing, while other websites will offer highlights. Not only will the website video allow viewers to watch the games in real time, they'll feature events that aren't usually found on television.

However, the ubiquity of streaming radio and video poses significant productivity, bandwidth cost and security challenges for companies of all sizes, according to content filtering firm 8e6 Technologies. One user accessing streaming media can cause up to 20 to 30 percent slowdown in overall network performance, while users accessing blocked websites via anonymous web proxies opens up networks to possible security breaches via bots and other malware.

“This will be the first Olympics where streaming video will play a role,” Patrick Murray, director of product management at 8e6, told SCMagazineUS.com on Thursday. “We expect that due to the time differences between here and China and the length of the games themselves, there could be a significant productivity loss.”

The heavy toll of bandwidth use could cut down on productivity levels for even those not watching the Games.

“Because of all the web applications used in the workplace, an employee who has the video running can affect the ability of others to work,” Murray said.

In addition, the chance to watch the Games live comes with security risks.  There have already been a number of scams associated with these Olympics, Steve Yin of network security provider St. Bernard Software, told SCMagazineUS.com, so the awareness of possible security risks is already high.

“Any time you have the probability of heavily trafficked sites, the interest of hackers hacking those sites to deposit malicious code increases,” he said. “Also, sites that appear to be legitimate sites, but are really malicious sites, will probably begin popping up.”

The Olympics online won't necessarily bring about any new security threats, Yin added, but it increases the probability of people running into threats already there.

Companies should ensure that all web gateway anti-virus and anti-malware software is updated. Also management, human resources and IT should work together to develop guidelines to enforce acceptable use of streaming video.
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