iPod killers? No! Killer iPods!
The Macalope was too busy last week to give Cara Garretson’s whimsically titled piece for Network World the attention it really deserved.
Wow! That’d be one big iPod!
You might think that having written that, Garretson would just sign off, Costanza-like, and get out of journalism on a high note. But she’s back! This week, she asks “Won’t Apple please think of the children?!”
Well, it’s about time someone asked the difficult rhetorical questions. Network World must think iPod security is an important issue because they’ve apparently got Garretson on it full time. Hopefully Apple will soon take responsibility for all enterprise damage caused by Windows viruses and employee theft. That would be the right thing to do.*
Few corporations are likely to ban iPods in the workplace, but whether Apple and other manufacturers of MP3 players shoulder some responsibility to add security to their devices — and how effective that security would be is a growing debate.
See how this works? Network World has turned the laughable “iPod virus” story (the virus that required Linux and self-execution, remember) into a faux controversy. Check out the inset on Garretson’s story — this is their sixth piece on iPod security since the “iPod virus”. Having devoted so much time to it, they can now call it a “growing debate”.
While this unintended use of the iPod is not exclusive to Apple’s device – employees with malicious intent could steal data using any MP3 player, or any removable media for that matter – Apple has sold more than 100 million iPods, making it the obvious choice.
Really, one might be inclined to wonder why a thief would decide to spend $79 on a shuffle when a generic flash drive — one that doesn’t require you to load iTunes and Quicktime on the machine you’re trying to steal data from — with the same capacity can be had for $10.
But, in Garretson’s defense, this is white collar crime we’re talking about. So, it’s appropriate in such situations to ask, “What would Thomas Crown have used?”
One might also point out that sales of flash drives must surely dwarf sales of the iPod, but at this point you’re just trying to impose logic where none exists.
An extensive search of the iPod and iTunes sections of Apple’s Web site turned up no information about setting the devices for data transfer…
You mean like this (elapsed time to discovery: 45 seconds)?
…but did also not warn against the potential for misuse when iPods are set as such.
Also, nowhere on Apple’s web site does it say anything about how you should not throw a click-wheel iPod really, really hard at someone’s head or file a nano into a shiv and stab someone with it. Apple did at least put up a warning about not eating the original shuffle, though (true story).
Now, the Macalope knows a fair amount about the enterprise world. When employees are told that their personal laptops are not to be connected to the corporate network, what’s the alternative they’re given for taking work home?
Using a flash drive.
So, why is it that Garretson is focusing on the iPod and Apple’s supposed responsibility when it’s corporate IT shops that have enabled and often recommended the use of portable drives?
It’s interesting to note that all the quotes in the story largely contradict Garretson’s central thesis — that the iPod is the likely tool for someone to steal data from your company. Not that that stopped her from writing it or Network World for pimping the ridiculous notion that by shipping hard drives Apple is somehow responsible for data theft.
* Note: the Macalope is already on record as saying that Apple’s flip attitude toward shipping a Windows virus on some iPods was unacceptable. This is trying to make Apple responsible for an entire class of problem not of its own making.