HR Management & Compliance

Electronic Security: iPods and Other Portable Devices Pose Serious Data Security Threat; Prevention Tips

iPods and similar portable media devices—such as iPhones, other cell phones, and USB flash drives—have become ubiquitous in our society. And concern is growing in the corporate world that because these devices can be used for much more than just listening to music, employees’ use of them in the workplace could pose a big threat to data security.

These little gadgets can hold huge amounts of information. For example, iPods now come in 160GB models, holding up to 25,000 photos or perhaps an untold number of your company’s documents or PowerPoint presentations. All an employee has to do is plug the gadget into your computer system, download, and go. It can take just seconds. To make matters worse, if an employee plugs in a device that has a virus, it could infect your system as well.

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What can you do to prevent problems?

  1. Make sure your confidentiality and trade secrets policy is broad enough to address the downloading and/or storage of sensitive data or software on employee or employer-owned devices.
  2. Use confidentiality and trade secrets agreements.
  3. Update your electronic security policy to prohibit the unauthorized downloading of company data or software onto personal devices.
  4. Use encryption software.
  5. Secure the USB ports on your computer system to block use. Software is available that can ban certain types of devices or classify which devices can be plugged in.

Additional Resources

For a sample computer and electronic policy that includes language about using portable media devices, CEA online subscribers can access this Online Exclusive.


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