IBM, Worried About Security, Bans Siri and Dropbox

IBM’s policy of allowing employees to bring their own devices to work and use them to access internal networks is causing some misgivings. Specifically, it’s 5,000-person IT staff is getting antsy about security. One result: The company’s banned the use of services such as Dropbox and the iPhone’s voice-activated personal assistant, Siri. Says MIT’s Technology Review:

Employees were found to be violating protocol by automatically forwarding their IBM e-mail to public Web mail services or using their smart phones to create open Wi-Fi hotspots, which make data vulnerable to snoops.

The IT department’s begun configuring employees’ personal devices so that their memory can be erased remotely if they’re lost or stolen.Transfer programs like Apple’s iCloud are disabled, and employees use IBM’s own version, MyMobileHub.

As for Siri, IBM worries that spoken queries may be stored by Apple. As Wired notes, those concerns are justified. You can’t blame them once you’ve read Apple’s license agreement:

When you use Siri or Dictation, the things you say will be recorded and sent to Apple in order to convert what you say into text. By using Siri or Dictation, you agree and consent to Apple’s and its subsidiaries’ and agents’ transmission, collection, maintenance, processing, and use of this information, including your voice input and User Data…

What it doesn’t say is who can look at the data or how long it’s stored

IBM may be playing it very safe, but unless and until Apple can anonymize queries the way Google does, perhaps it’s a prudent move.

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