IBM Declares Apple's Siri a Security Threat, Bans Use on Corporate Networks

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 05-23-2012 Print Email
IBM has banned Apple's Siri digital assistant--along with other apps and services--from its networks out of concern for security and privacy. Big Blue realizes the move to enable workers to bring their own devices to work offers both benefits and challenges.

As well-mannered and well-intentioned as she may be, Apple's Siri is not welcome at IBM--at least not on the company's networks.

According to an MIT Technology Review report, IBM has banned the use of Apple's Siri digital assistant on its networks because of security and privacy concerns.

"The company worries that the spoken queries might be stored somewhere," IBM CIO Jeanette Horan told MIT Technology Review.

And, indeed, Wired Enterprise explained:

It turns out that Horan is right to worry. In fact, Apple's iPhone Software License Agreement spells this out: "When you use Siri or Dictation, the things you say will be recorded and sent to Apple in order to convert what you say into text" Apple says. Siri collects a bunch of other information--- names of people from your address book and other unspecified user data, all to help Siri do a better job.

More and more enterprises are moving to adopt bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategies, which tend to enhance employee productivity and job satisfaction as employees can use their own devices to get work done. Yet BYOD is fraught with challenges such as that posed by Siri.

Not only is security a concern, but as much as BYOD can promote productivity, it also can possibly draw from it if employees want to access media or play their Angry Birds or Words With Friends during working hours.

Of course, like Siri at IBM, many types of media, apps and games are suppressed or banned on company networks under BYOD policies and acceptable-use agreements. These agreements tend to include clauses in which employees have to agree to allow the company to remotely wipe or delete data on their devices in the event it is lost or stolen.

Enterprises employ various methods of controlling or managing how employees use their personal devices on the companies' systems. For instance, many use geo-fencing, which is the practice of limiting mobile employees access to certain apps and data when they are within the company's premises. And when they leave the premises, depending on their role, they may no longer have access to sensitive company information--so their neighbor on the train home can't peer over and see sales figures, revenue forecasts or whatnot.

In addition to banning Apple's Siri, IBM also disallows the use of public file-transfer services such as Dropbox, Horan said.



 

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