iPODs, PDAs, Smart Phones - The New Data Security Challenge for Business Organizations*



Case Code : CLIT006
Publication date : 2007
Subject : IT and Systems
Industry : -
Length : 02 Pages
Price : Rs. 100

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Key words:

iPod, PDA, smart phone, MP3 player, digital camera, pod slurping, industrial espionage, data theft, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited, Reliance Communications, IT and ITeS, BPO sector, data security, HR dilemma, fun at work, monitoring

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Organizations were waking up to the threat of data theft by their own employees with devices such as iPods, smart phones and digital cameras with large storage space becoming ubiquitous in the workplace. This new data security threat, that the experts called pod slurping, was increasingly becoming a major dilemma for the organizations.


In February, 2007, Prasanth Indulkar an employee of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited was arrested on charges of industrial espionage. It was alleged that over the past several months he had been transferring sensitive information to a senior executive in Reliance Communications through e-mails and pen drives. Experts felt that such incidents of data theft by employees were nothing new with the growing use and widespread availability of portable IT devices such as pen drives, PDAs, etc.. They said that even popular gadgets like the iPod and other MP3 players, digital cameras, and smart phones could easily be used to steal data by employees as these devices came with a plug-and-play facility coupled with a large storage capability.

Data theft has emerged as a key challenge for all organizations, irrespective of size, industry sector, and location. Companies operating in the IT and ITeS outsourcing sector have been among the worst hit. For instance, in the mid 2000s, the reputation of India's BPO sector suffered due to incidents of employees stealing sensitive data. A Forrester Research report in 2005 had warned that such incidents had the potential to curb the booming Indian BPO sector by 30%. Even non-IT companies have woken up to the data security threat posed by portable IT / communication devices. In 2005, a data security expert in the US, Abe Usher, first coined the term ‘pod slurping’ to describe the stealing of data through portable devices such as iPods, pen drives, etc...

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