What is a greynet?

Internet communications have evolved from point-to-point, asynchronous channels like email to real-time, presence-oriented communications like IM, P2P file sharing, Skype, and web conferencing. FaceTime terms these real-time communications applications ‘greynets’ – defined as network-enabled applications that are often downloaded and installed by the end user without the permission or knowledge of the IT department and that use evasive techniques to circumvent existing security controls.

Typical greynet applications include:

Why worry about greynets?

There’s a lot to like about greynet applications. They build community and collaboration among different corporate locations, remote employees, telecommuters, supply chains, partners, and customers. They’re delivering cost savings, lower telecommunications bills, greater accuracy in written transactions, and increased efficiency through rapid decision-making. That’s a lot of business benefits.

Greynet application availability is even becoming a checklist item for potential hires – today’s workforce expects instant messaging and other real-time communications tools to be available wherever they are and whatever they’re doing. The edge of the corporate network is rapidly moving beyond the physical network perimeter to include the broader community of customers and trading partners, and end users are driving the process.

Regardless of whether an enterprise-grade instant messaging platform like Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) or IBM Lotus Sametime has been deployed, or even if use of a public IM network like AOL Instant Messenger has been blessed by IT, users are continuing to introduce consumer real-time communications tools into the enterprise. Further proof, if proof be required, that personal and professional workspaces are morphing into a single work-play environment.

The Annual Greynets Survey

Every year, FaceTime partners with research firm New Diligence to produce “Greynets in the Enterprise: An Annual Survey of Trends, Attitudes and Impact.” For the latest survey, published in October 2007, data was collected from more than 700 employees and IT managers to determine the impact greynet applications are having on their organizations.

This year’s survey reveals:

  • 85% of employees use their work PCs for “personal, non-work purposes”
  • 38 percent of these employees send personal IMs or engage in chat while at work
  • Regardless of company size, 8 in 10 workers surf, shop and chat over the company network
  • IM usage is tracked in less than half of work locations covered by the survey
  • The number of work locations with 8 or more greynet applications in use has almost tripled in the last three years.

Source of information: Facetime Security Labs

Don't miss