USB keys can be used for good or evil

A serious security threat faces enterprise from the invasion of easily-concealed USB keys, music players, and portable hard drives.

This is particularly true for companies where intellectual property (IP) is intrinsically a competitive advantage, according to Frost & Sullivan security analyst James Turner.

"Whether or not [portable media devices] are used for good or evil is up to whoever uses them," Turner said.

"The security issues these keys pose is something IT managers and enterprises are going to be concerned about in the near future."

Hugh Dunn, IT manager for Strathern Insurance Brokers, said current information security concerns are not directed just towards USB keys, but portable hard drives and media devices like iPods.

Dunn said policy making needs to be stepped up to meet the challenge.

"Overall, I think they are a major security threat - the capacity is getting higher and the cost of each unit is getting lower," Dunn said.

"Not many people use them for data so until management works out a policy for acceptable use we will just monitor it.

"We have the blocked iPod tunes Web site with our firewall and already a few people have brought [such devices] in and tried unsuccessfully to download content, but because access is blocked by policy they have had no luck."

USB keys are great tool, Dunn said, but IT managers need to really clamp down on their use.

An IBM spokesperson said USB keys are used in conjunction with every desktop in its office and said generally commonsense is applied to protect confidential information.

"We have a strong culture for employees to be aware of guidelines to protect confidential information," the spokesperson said.

"Portable media is a useful tool, but also requires employees to protect the keys physically or the information on them through passwords."

Centennial Software managing director Phil Hare said the lines between technology for corporate use and its use in the lifestyle space are blurred.

Hare said while the technology has a legitimate use, albeit personal, the corporate IT landscape has become blurred with personal equipment.

"A lot of the portable devices currently in use in large organizations like can easily be plugged-in, unplugged and slid inside your coat pocket," Hare said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Crawford

Show Comments



Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?