Batchelder believes the attitudes of legitimate market stakeholders are likely to prevail-at least for business products. Companies like XDegrees envision something like virtual private networks extended to audiences outside the firewall. CEO Michael Tanne, whose P2P application-development server should ship this summer, is going to great lengths to ensure security.
of respondents in a recent survey reported computer security breaches; 26 percent reported theft of intellectual property totaling $151 million.
SOURCE: Computer Security Institute
But like all PC locks, his system will only be as effective as its least conscientious user. No one is more thrilled by the possibilities of P2P than hackers, who live to uncover human error. P2P complicates security issues by orders of magnitude, says Rob Clyde, vice president and chief technologist at Symantec Corp., and greatly increases the potential for mistakes.
Security experts are unanimous that a key element of network and desktop defense is to simply not be visible to Internet prowlers. Once you've invited a hacker through an open PC port and onto your hard drive, it's a whole different ballgame, says Clyde.
Hackers were the first to write P2P applications. They're called Trojan horses, and P2P networks like Napster and ICQ are their preferred channels of distribution, says Jim Weaver, 45, owner of Cyber Resources, a Crestview, Florida, security consulting firm.
Based on the fact that the best and brightest of Silicon Valley-right up to Intel itself-are all worked up about P2P, there's a certain inevitability to it. But don't forget about the vampires out there. The Internet is dangerous enough outside your firewall. But, as anyone who has ever seen a vampire movie knows, your troubles really begin once you invite one in over your threshold.
It's 2 a.m. Wednesday morning. Do you have any way of knowing whom your always-connected computers are talking to?
Mike Hogan is Entrepreneur's technology editor. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.