Employers urged to let staff stream live FIFA World Cup matches

Blocking streaming sites could expose network to malware

Palo Alto Networks has urged employers around the world to let workers watch live streaming services of the FIFA World Cup during work hours to ensure the safety of their networks.

Palo Alto Networks, Manager Systems Engineering A/NZ, Gavin Coulthard, said one way of dealing with employees streaming World Cup matches during work hours was to try to block access to improve productivity while limiting the impact it has on the network and business applications.

"But given the range of streaming options, if employees wanted to watch, they will find a way," he said.

"That means a headache for administrators trying to block each and every stream, and a security risk if the employee’s workaround takes them to a phishing site or exposes the network to malware.

He said an alternative approach would be to use the World Cup as an opportunity to build camaraderie around a single, global event, even as teams compete.

"In other words: let them watch!” he said.

The company offered best practices for securing business networks during the surge of interest in World Cup games.

The first was to use URL filtering category control (streaming media, sports) to securely enable access by applying full spectrum threat prevention and Quality of Service (QoS).

In the event a policy is not in place, businesses may also want to block the Proxy-avoidance-anonymisers category to ensure those are not used to bypass controls.

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For educational purposes, use the block and continue option and post a custom message telling employees, “You can watch, but we are scanning and applying QoS to ensure business continuity”.

You can also use application-based policies to apply QoS for well-known video applications such as HTTP-Video and Flash.

Or, create a custom App-ID for more granular control over specific World Cup streaming applications.

Coulthard said World Cup excitement was a good thing.

"And you can feed that excitement while maintaining high security standards.”

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Tags palo alto networksworld cup streamingGavin CoulthardPalo AltoManager Systems Engineering A/NZ

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