Gartner: iPod, Portable Devices a Corporate Security Risk

Companies should consider banning portable storage devices such as Appleis iPod from corporate personal computers because they can spread viruses or steal critical corporate data, according to the research company Gartner, Inc.

The report, obtained by The Mac Observer and issued this week, does not recommend outright the banning of such devices from office environments, but does make it clear that portable USB and FireWire-based products open up businesses to a whole range of risks and that the protection of sensitive information is more important than ever.

The report points out the wide range of such portable devices, including smart media cards, memory sticks, compact flash, keychain drives as well as portable MP3 players. Small portable storage products can bypass perimeter defenses like firewalls and introduce malware such as Trojans or viruses onto company networks, said the report.

"Companies are at risk of losing intellectual property and other critical corporate data," the report said. "Portable storage devices are ideal for anyone intending to steal sensitive and valuable data. Employees may also be responsible for losing data if they inadvertently mislay these devices."

Gartner recommends companies "forbid the use of uncontrolled, privately owned devices with corporate PCs." In addition, the company suggests the adoption of "personal firewalls to limit activity on USB ports", investigate products that can control ports selectively, and "consider employing mobile data protection products to encrypt corporate or sensitive data."

The report ends by telling businesses that they "must ensure that the right procedures and technologies are adopted to securely manage the use of portable storage devices like USB ikeychaini drives. This will help to limit damage from malicious code, loss of proprietary information or intellectual property, and consequent lawsuits and loss of reputation."

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