BBC bans non-Windows PDAs

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BBC bans non-Windows PDAs By Emma Nash [04-02-2002] The BBC is to ban all staff from using handheld devices if they are not running Microsoft’s Pocket PC 2002 operating system, amid fears for the security of its data. The organisation claims the decision has been made to prevent security breaches and to comply with its data protection obligations. “The BBC has data protection responsibilities and in order to maintain our obligations with security and health and safety, we have to standardise on one platform,” a BBC spokesman said. “After research, we have decided that Microsoft’s Pocket PC operating system has sufficient security measures in place.” But analysts and industry insiders have displayed mixed reactions to the BBC’s decision. “Microsoft doesn’t seem to be the most trusted name in security,” said Jose Lopez, security analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “The PDA market is still developing, and if this is the best it has to offer I’m sure it will be easily improved upon [by another vendor].” The BBC has described its decision to outlaw all other personal digital assistants (PDAs) as “purely preventative”, and denies that it has experienced security problems with devices in the past. It claims that uncontrolled PDAs are putting the organisation at risk of virus attacks and infringement of its data. Ovum analyst Jessica Figueras is not surprised that the BBC has selected the Microsoft platform. “You can definitely argue that the Pocket PC is better if only because it was built as an enterprise device,” Figueras said. But standardisation is probably the real reason behind the decision. “I think the BBC probably saw the writing on the wall and said we need to take a proactive approach to this,” she said. Simon Moores, chairman of the Windows NT Forum, has mixed views. “I’m in favour of the consistency, I’m in favour of the security policy,” he said, “but I’m not sure I grasp why they’re committing to Pocket PC. “If you’re going to have one [a PDA] it doesn’t make any difference [in terms of security] because you’re still synchronising with Outlook. In fact, I’m not sure that Palm wouldn’t be more secure because it is hacked less.” Staff have 18 months until their Psion, Palm or other similar non-Microsoft devices are banned. After that time only devices running Pocket PC 2002 or higher will be permitted for use on the premises.



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