Seemingly harmless gadgets, such as MP3 players and cell phones, can be used by employees to download increasingly large amounts of company data. Here are three ways to thwart so-called podslurping.

  1. Establish a policy Let employees know that you're on the lookout for podslurping by requiring them to sign a written agreement prohibiting them from downloading company data onto portable storage devices, including MP3 players, cell phones, and USB key drives.

  2. Block access Several software companies, including SecureWave, based in Herndon, Virginia, sell applications that block access to USB ports. Tech administrators can specify which employees can use which portable storage devices on which computers on any given day. The software also can lock down the entire computer system after hours.

  3. Stay in the network Store critical data on protected networks rather than on individual desktops. Also, use encryption software, such as Microsoft's Encrypting File System, to protect confidential information from prying eyes.