[ISN] UK military denies ban on iPods

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Tue Jul 13 2004 - 22:49:36 PDT


By Alfred Hermida 
BBC News Online technology editor 
13 July, 2004

The Ministry of Defence has denied reports that it has banned Apple's
iPod due to fears it could be used to steal sensitive files.  News
reports said the music player and other portable storage devices had
been banned from most sections of its headquarters in the UK and

But a MOD spokesman told BBC News Online that was there no outright
ban on the iPod.

"Certainly it is not the case that the MOD has banned these," he said.

Security fears

The potential security risks posed by portable storage devices that
plug into a PC's USB or FireWire ports has been highlighted recently
in a couple of reports.

Last week, analysts Gartner said businesses were increasingly putting
themselves at risk by allowing the unauthorised and uncontrolled use
of these gadgets.

And on Tuesday, a survey by a British security firm showed that many
companies saw removable media devices like the iPod as a security

"The research has revealed some worrying attitudes towards corporate
security," said Andy Campbell, managing director of Reflex Magnetics.

"Whilst businesses recognise a problem exists, they are taking few
practical measures to protect themselves from the risks associated
with removable media devices."

Data to go

As well as holding thousands of songs, an iPod can also act as an
external hard drive. And small USB memory sticks are becoming
increasingly popular with staff, due to the ease with which they can
be used to move files between the home and office.

Press reports suggested that this had led the British military to stop
the use of iPods and similar gadgets.

"With USB devices, if you plug it straight into the computer you can
bypass passwords and get right on the system," RAF Wing Commander
Peter D'Ardenne told Reuters. "That's why we had to plug that gap."

But the MOD has insisted that iPods are welcomed

"We have a flexible management approach in regards to iPods and
similar devices that can move data from official systems," said a MOD

"In each area, the risks are assessed and, when appropriate, measures
are taken to mitigate that risk."

"There is not a case that there is an outright ban on these," he said,
although he added that there were some areas where portable storage
devices would not be allowed.

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