Security firm Pointsec on Monday added Media Encryption to its portable software security suite, which is an application designed to help IT managers control the use of removable media such as USB flash drives, memory cards and floppy disks.
Administrators have no control over the information that is transferred between one of these high-capacity devices and a corporate network, unlike email and other network traffic. This creates a serious risk because the devices could be used to copy sensitive corporate data from an intranet or release dangerous or malicious files inside a company's firewall.
Last week, a Gartner report reiterated warnings about the dangers of using portable devices, but the latest report also added "disk-based MP3 players, such as Apple's iPod, and digital cameras with smart media cards, memory sticks, compact flash and other memory media."
Magnus Ahlberg, managing director of Pointsec UK, said the new generation of removable media devices do present security problems, but that it would be unwise to suggest that people simply abandon them.
"We believe it is a mistake to simply dismiss the new generation of removable media, because they involve security risks or that they can be used for illicit purposes. There are obvious practical advantages with using removable storage devices," said Ahlberg.
Pointsec's Media Encryption requires all files in a Pointsec-protected client to be encrypted, so if a file is copied from the network, it cannot be read from a non-approved client. If required, non-Pointsec devices can read the encrypted files but only if they have been supplied with special passwords.
Research group Gartner claims the USB flash memory device market is one of the fastest growing sectors in the whole IT industry. The company expects device sales to more than double over the next four years, valuing the market at $2.9bn by 2008. During the same timeframe, volume sales are expected to increase from 45.6 million to 98.2 million units.