updated 02:50 pm EST, Tue November 25, 2008
A recent IEEE standards group format should reach upcoming operating systems soon and eliminate many of the worries over removable drives at work. Known as IEEE 1667, the standard would establish a way for "transient storage devices" such as USB jump drives, external hard drives, and portable media players to authenticate with a host computer and allow them to be used as removable storage.
The move will let companies both approve a set list of drives that could be used by computers on the local network without also inviting rogue devices. It would also allow home devices with built-in storage to be brought to work with less security risk, such as iPods and other hardware that can act as a bulk drive.
IEEE 1667 is platform-independent and should allow support across multiple operating systems once the software is modified to add the feature. At present, only Microsoft among major operating system builders has publicly pledged support to the standard and plans to make it a default feature of Windows 7. [via CNET]