Plenty of companies take the bring your own device (BYOD) approach which, at its surface, sounds like it gives employees freedom and empowerment. However, enterprise firms run a risk by no providing controlled equipment and are starting to crack down on what can, and can’t, be used on a work phone. IBM, for example, has decided to prevent employees from using Siri on an iPhone. The company still provides 40,000 of its 400,000 employees with a BlackBerry, but allows 80,000 workers to bring their own phones to work.
IBM’s chief information officer Jeanette Horan said the decision was made because IBM isn’t sure where, or for how long, Apple holds on to Siri’s data. Apple has complete access to information shared with its Siri software. That means, in theory, if an employee were to use Siri for anything work related, such as issuing a reminder for an important project’s deadline, Apple could collect and monitor the information.
“We’re just extraordinarily conservative,” Horan said. “It’s the nature of our business… The company worries that the spoken queries might be stored somewhere.”
Siri isn’t the only mobile application blackballed by IBM. The company has banned the use of file transferring apps such as Dropbox and iCloud, and has replaced those services with an in-house application called MyMobileHub. IBM also prohibits forwarding emails to non-company email addresses and doesn’t allow employees to use their phones as Wi-Fi hotspots. These practices, IBM argues, could allow internal information to be compromised.
Horan hopes her actions help educate employees on mobile security. “We found a tremendous lack of awareness as to what constitutes a risk,” Horan told MIT’s Technology Review. “We’re trying to make people aware.”