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IBM Ban USB Drives

IBM Ban USB Drives

IBM have placed a blanket ban on all employees from USB thumb drives. The move has divided opinion amongst experts about how effective it will be at reducing their risk profile.

IBM are concerned about potential data leaks and the secondary risk of USB based malware infection, however the blanket ban is likely to frustrate employees using them for legitimate business reasons. They may also struggle to define the difference between USB drives on one hand and cameras, digital memo-takers and smartphones on the other that can also act as a USB disk drive.

USB thumb drives have been around for some time now and are fairly ubiquitous. They have been used in a number of data thefts in recent years because they are discrete, portable and capable of holding an increasingly large volume of data.

Closing down USB as a channel for insiders to steal data through is a wise move, although less drastic approaches like controlling access rather than blanket banning are available. Really determined would be data-leakers may now just look to another ex-filtration channel. Common data transfer techniques like email or web uploads are scanned and controlled but as a result more exotic methods using LEDs, sound and the computer screen have evolved. It's hard to see how IBM could ban those.

"Where there's a will there's a way"

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