Security firm NextSentry is calling for a ban on mass storage devices, including the iPod, saying that such devices help to perpetrate "pocket fraud" by enabling employees to casually steal corporate data.

NextSentry, which specialises in developing security systems for the finance and healthcare industries, calls "pocket fraud" the "methodology of choice" for employees to download confidential customer data and intellectual property, which they can then sell to competitors.

Such theft is not unique to iPods, which certainly feature a fair amount of storage capacity in a small space. NextSentry said the problem is also evident among users of USB thumb drives, for example, other MP3 players that can be mounted on users' desktops as mass storage devices, or writeable CD or DVD media. NextSentry points to the coining of a neologism, iPod Slurping , as evidence of the phenomenon.

The security firm doesn't call for a permanent ban on iPods or other devices, but recommends that companies and other organisations with sensitive data consider restricting the use of such devices until an enterprise-wide policy enforcement system is put in place.

Of course, NextSentry is just the company to provide such a capability - the company's "StealthAgent" software has been developed to restrict the transfer of sensitive data to devices connected to a PC, including discs, USB drives and MP3 players.