Longhorn to Help Control Gadget Use

By on September 9, 2004

If the details in a CNet article are correct, Microsoft’s Longhorn will include tools needed(?) by IT managers to put the clamps on people using various gadgets to their work PC’s.

Flash drives, iPods, and other doodads — both wired and wireless — that are able to store large amounts of data can be a security risk to the company; unscrupulous employees can use them to load up lots of sensitive documents and carry them out in a pocket. There’s also the danger of such devices either accidentally or intentionally introducing viruses and other malicious software into a network.

Companies have been slow to react to the threat posed by digital storage devices in general. It’s one that companies have turned a blind eye to for a very long time. If you think back, it used to be that stealing significant secrets was difficult because it was hard to get away with that much paper.

(for some reason I had a flash of Sandy Berger shoving paper in his pants just now!)

Many government agencies and the US military have already banned the on-duty use of some such devices, and many private businesses are following suit. But banning an item and being able to prevent its use are two different things.

Too bad the IT world has to wait for Longhorn to do this; a lot of pilfering can happen between now and then. But I’m sure there are 3rd party developers that are working on something like this as we speak, if they’re not out already.



  1. I suppose they’d better go ahead and yank out the floppy drives and the CD burners too. People get upset over the iPods and Flash drives because they’re new technology, but the fact is that the problem is the person, not the tech.

    Before someone notes that floppies are too small to cause any harm, a floppy can hold a secret or damaging word document or a lot of source code (if it’s just the source).

    If you’re drafting a security plan, you have to worry about anything that can convert data to portable media. And even then there are lots of ways for things to get off the network. It’s probably better to take Intel’s approach (as mentioned in the article) and educate employees on why they have to protect the information, and compartmentalize the secret stuff.

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