You don’t really think about an iPod as being anything other than a dumping ground for music and videos, something that you take with you when you go the lake or the beach or the supermarketor work. Yet that MP3 player made by Apple can be a memory drive as well. You don’t have to have Song One on that little baby; rather, you can store reams of data. And that’s the kind of reality that gives corporate security chiefs nightmares.
It’s not just the iPod. Many other companies make portable music players, and they can all store most kinds of data. The iPod, 100 million strong, is just the most convenient example of a technological innovation that can become a security breach by merely being easy to use. (And, as we reported yesterday, it’s susceptible to a certain sort of virus if used in the right configuration.)
See, all you have to do is store some sensitive documents on your iPod, have it stolen from you, and there go those sensitive documents, out into the wide world. Because of this frightening possibility, some companies are now calling for Apple’s ubiquitous MP3 player and others of its ilk to be banned from the workplace. You could make the same argument about flash drives, so the iPod seems a convenient target in this scenario; yet the danger still exists.
This ban-the-iPod-from-work movement is actually a reaction to the explosion of personal technology making its way into the workplace. A huge number of mobile phones have cameras on them these days (and plenty of people carry around digital cameras besides), and it’s all too easy for workers to take snapshots of company documents and/or security passwords and protocols. This doesn’t even address the power of email to transport documents large and small, innocuous and vital.
The overwhelming presence of the iPod, however, makes it a symbol of the potential for security risk, and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.