Feeds

IBM bans Dropbox, Siri and rival cloud tech at work

BYOD doesn't save cash, leaves Big Blue with security headache

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

IBM has banned employees from using Dropbox and Apple's iCloud at work as it claws back permission to use third-party cloud services. The rethink has also resulted in a edict against the iPhone 4S's Siri voice recognition technology at Big Blue.

Jeanette Horan, IBM’s chief information officer, told MIT's Technology Review that the restrictions had been applied following a review of IBM's Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy, introduced in 2010.

IBM still supplies BlackBerrys to about 40,000 of its 400,000 employees, but a further 80,000 others now access its intranet using rival smartphones and tablets, including kit they purchased themselves. The initiative has not yielded anticipated cost reductions even though it has created various security headaches.

An internal survey of IBM workers discovered they were "blissfully unaware" about the security risks from popular apps, according to Horan. In some cases, staff forwarded internal corporate emails to webmail inboxes, potentially pushing sensitive information beyond Big Blue's security perimeter.

Horan's team has set about establishing guidelines on which apps IBM workers can use, which among other things discourages the use of Dropbox while encouraging the use of IBM's own cloud storage service, MyMobileHub.

Employees' devices are specially configured (normally over-the-air) before they are allowed to access IBM's network. Changes are made so that a smartphone can be erased remotely if it is lost or stolen, for example.

IBM disabled Siri, Apple's voice-controlled search engine, on employees' iPhones because of concerns that spoken queries, which are converted to text and processed on Apple's servers, might allow sensitive information to leak into third-party systems.

"We're just extraordinarily conservative," Horan says. "It's the nature of our business."

A proportion of workers are allowed to access IBM email, calendars, and contacts on their portable devices, while others are given wider access to intranet applications and data. The smartphones and tablets of users in the latter category are loaded with VPN client software so that communications are encrypted.

Bill Bodin, IBM's chief technology officer for mobility, added that whatever the challenges of supporting workers' equipment might bring, reversing BYOD practices is not an option for IBM nor the business world in general. "The genie is out of the bottle," he said. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Wanna keep your data for 1,000 YEARS? No? Hard luck, HDS wants you to anyway
Combine Blu-ray and M-DISC and you get this monster
US boffins demo 'twisted radio' mux
OAM takes wireless signals to 32 Gbps
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
Apple flops out 2FA for iCloud in bid to stop future nude selfie leaks
Millions of 4chan users howl with laughter as Cupertino slams stable door
Students playing with impressive racks? Yes, it's cluster comp time
The most comprehensive coverage the world has ever seen. Ever
Run little spreadsheet, run! IBM's Watson is coming to gobble you up
Big Blue's big super's big appetite for big data in big clouds for big analytics
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.