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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 July, 2004, 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
UK military denies ban on iPods
By Alfred Hermida
BBC News Online technology editor

Apple's iPod music player
Some businesses reportedly see the iPod as a security risk
The Ministry of Defence has denied reports that it has banned Apple's iPod due to fears it could be used to steal sensitive files.

News reports said the music player and other portable storage devices had been banned from most sections of its headquarters in the UK and abroad.

But a MOD spokesman told BBC News Online that was there no outright ban on the iPod.

"Certainly it is not the case that the MOD has banned these," he said.

Security fears

The potential security risks posed by portable storage devices that plug into a PC's USB or FireWire ports has been highlighted recently in a couple of reports.

We have a flexible management approach in regards to iPods and similar devices that can move data from official systems
MOD spokesman
Last week, analysts Gartner said businesses were increasingly putting themselves at risk by allowing the unauthorised and uncontrolled use of these gadgets.

And on Tuesday, a survey by a British security firm showed that many companies saw removable media devices like the iPod as a security threat.

"The research has revealed some worrying attitudes towards corporate security," said Andy Campbell, managing director of Reflex Magnetics.

"Whilst businesses recognise a problem exists, they are taking few practical measures to protect themselves from the risks associated with removable media devices."

Data to go

As well as holding thousands of songs, an iPod can also act as an external hard drive. And small USB memory sticks are becoming increasingly popular with staff, due to the ease with which they can be used to move files between the home and office.

Apple's iPod music player
The iPod can be used as an external hard drive
Press reports suggested that this had led the British military to stop the use of iPods and similar gadgets.

"With USB devices, if you plug it straight into the computer you can bypass passwords and get right on the system," RAF Wing Commander Peter D'Ardenne told Reuters. "That's why we had to plug that gap."

But the MOD has insisted that iPods are welcomed

"We have a flexible management approach in regards to iPods and similar devices that can move data from official systems," said a MOD spokesman.

"In each area, the risks are assessed and, when appropriate, measures are taken to mitigate that risk."

"There is not a case that there is an outright ban on these," he said, although he added that there were some areas where portable storage devices would not be allowed.

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