Staff at IBM have been banned from using removable memory devices such as USB sticks, SD cards and flash drives.

The possibility of “financial and reputational” damage if staff lost or misused the devices prompted the decision. Instead, IBM staff who need to move data around will be encouraged to do so via an internal network. The decree banning removable storage acknowledges that complying with it could be “disruptive”.

IBM staff were told about the policy in an advisory from Shamla Naidoo, the company’s global chief security officer.

Some IBM departments had been banned from using removable portable media for some time, said Ms Naidoo, but now the decree was being implemented worldwide. IBM staff are expected to stop using removable devices by the end of May.

When asked about the policy, an IBM spokeswoman said: “We regularly review and enhance our security standards and practices to protect both IBM and our clients in an increasingly complex threat environment.”

Our Opinion ; Removable devices present one of the largest threats for malware and data theft and this action is sensible.