flush the flash

is that a security exposure in your pocket…? organizations are starting to turn their attention to the widespread use of usb flash memory sticks. during a recent tour meeting customers across the US in november, i discovered that usb memory sticks were starting to be banned by several companies, mostly in financial organizations. the main concern is the ease with which sensitive data could be loaded onto these sticks and from there end up in all kinds of places, with little control over who might see it and no idea what the exposure could be. it’s bad enough if you’re able to detect a security exposure, but worse still if the first you hear about it is on the evening newscast. a story today from the bbc.com site shows that government organizations are banning the memory sticks now. whilst viruses that lurk on memory sticks are clearly one part of the problem, the issue of where the data could end up is also part of the headache. completely banning memory sticks may work for organizations where going through metal detectors is a daily activity, but that’s not (yet) the case in the majority of companies, and doesn’t solve the issue for home-workers. will notebook machines appear on the market without USB ports for cautious organizations? perhaps. will spot checks be conducted for memory sticks? unlikely. if organizations made it easier to share and use files than having to wrestle with memory keys and hunt for the usb port? probably. can Managed File Transfer offer an easier way than usb sticks to securely share and use large files in the future? definitely.

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