It’s the start of a short week, and things are a bit slow, but one item of information caught our eye in relation to the use of mobile devices in the workplace, and in particular in the IBM workplace. According to an article in the MIT Technology Review, IBM is stopping employees from using their own portable devices in the IBM workplace.
Bring Your Own Device
Anyone that has been watching the development of mobile content will realize that this has been a thorny issue for a long time with many companies concerned about the security issues that comes with the BYOD trend.
According to the interview with Jeantte Horan, Big Blue’s Chief Information Officer, IBM, like many big enterprises, had no objection employees bringing their own devices and in 2010 implemented this "relaxed" attitude as policy.
This meant that employees who wanted to work outside the office didn’t have to use a device issued by the company, and in the case of IBM that means Blackberry.
After the 2010 agreement this meant 40,000 employees got Blackberrys, and everyone else used a hodge-podge of assorted mobiles.
In principal, it’s a good idea; people are using devices that they are familiar with and are happy to use. But -- and it’s a big BUT -- those devices contained a lot of apps that had the potential to create security risks.
And that was only in 2010; think of the apps and the developments in mobile devices that have been made since and you see that the problem is considerable.
Apps Under Wraps
The result, Horan says, is that IBM has drawn up a list of apps that they just don’t want people using anywhere, and there’s quite a few known brands that have fallen foul of this.
Public file transfer systems like Dropbox have been banned as has Apple's iCloud; instead, employees use an IBM-hosted version called MyMobileHub as, Horan says, there is the possibility that internal, sensitive information will get loose and into the wild.
Also getting the chop is Apple's personal assistant Siri based on fears that confidential information will get out. It seems that the licensing agreement says that anything recorded using the app will also be recorded by Apple servers so you can see why IBM might be nervous.
According to the technology giant's iOS Software License Agreement, anything that consumers say and record using the app will be sent to Apple, and the use of Siri implies consent to Apple's collecting, processing and using of this information.
Other problems included forwarding IBM email to public Web mail services, or the creation of open Wi-Fi hotspots that enable hackers in through the company’s unseen doors.
Of course there are also a number of other security issues that IBM has looked at, too. In principal, they don’t seem to have any problems with users bringing their own devices in, but if you want to use it with IBM networks then you have to agree to enable them in such a way that the memory can be erased completely if they are lost.
It's just about certain that IBM is not the only company that has instigated this policy, but it is certainly one of the biggest. This won't be last on this so watch and wait.