March Madness Maddening for Company Bandwidth

We’ve been hearing for years about how the first two days of March Madness can cost companies a whole bunch of money in terms of employee productivity. But have you stopped to think about the network issues that can occur with all of those workers streaming live games onto their computer screens?

As Internet video quality has improved, bandwidth has become a real challenge for many businesses. And with drawing an average traffic increase of 10,000 percent during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, that means the potential for severely disable network performance, interfering with daily operations and business goals.

“The amount of corporate bandwidth used to view these basketball games during work hours is shocking,” said Spencer Parker, director of product management at ScanSafe, now a part of Cisco. “Most employers don’t know the bandwidth impact of these streaming sessions and are unaware of any financial implications.”

Even just a few employees watching a game simultaneously can dominate a network gateway, impairing internal business traffic. Streaming video can also cause applications to run slowly and documents can take a long time to open. This is a particularly concerning issue with wide area network (WAN) connectivity at branch offices.

“IT professionals need to plan and be prepared for the extra bandwidth usage during this period,” said Parker. “Having well-defined internet usage policies, particularly pertaining to streaming video, can ease the bandwidth squeeze during March Madness.”

In addition to bandwidth issues, companies should be aware of the potential for malware infection during this period. If employees are viewing popular March Madness Web sites and streaming video from work, they could be exposing their companies to a myriad of malware complications, including the theft of proprietary data.

ScanSafe’s latest Annual Global Threat Report revealed that “the vast majority of modern malware encounters occur with exposure to compromised websites.” Cyber criminals are now focused on the targeting and harvesting of sensitive data and March Madness gives them the perfect opportunity to target high-trafficked sports Web sites.

“Employees downloading content from malware-infected sites are putting their entire organization at risk for data theft,” said Parker.

This post might have been longer, but one of the games just went into overtime.

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