Siri SnoopingIs Siri a security risk? It’s at least possible, says IBM. The company has banned the use of Apple’s digital iPhone 4S assistant.

IBM Chief Technology Officer Jeanette Horan has banned Siri, as well as other digital commercial products like Dropbox.

Horan says Apple’s Siri may represent a security risk to anyone dealing with confidential information, as the voice commands are sent to Apple for translation into text.

That means it’s possible those commands could be intercepted.

Since Siri can be used to write emails and texts, it’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility that sensitive IBM information could be leaked to outside sources.

Wired has looked into the matter and determined that IMB’s concerns are pretty much justified. Apple even admits as much in its iPhone Software License Agreement.

“When you use Siri or Dictation, the things you say will be recorded and sent to Apple in order to convert what you say into text and, for Siri, to also process your requests,” writes Apple. “Your device will also send Apple other information, such as your first name and nickname; the names, nicknames, and relationship with you (e.g., ‘my dad’) of your address book contacts; and song names in your collection (collectively, your ‘User Data’). All of this data is used to help Siri and Dictation understand you better and recognize what you say. It is not linked to other data that Apple may have from your use of other Apple services. By using Siri or Dictation, you agree and consent to Apple’s and its subsidiaries’ and agents’ transmission, collection, maintenance, processing, and use of this information, including your voice input and User Data, to provide and improve Siri, Dictation, and other Apple products and services.” (Emphasis Apple’s)

While privacy issues and sharing of user data should surprise no one these days, it may be at least a little surprising to learn that Apple’s servers, and not your iPhone 4S, are doing most of the work when it comes to Siri.  That certainly doesn’t mean that the folks at Apple are listening to everything you say to Siri, but it’s not impossible.

Turns out, the American Civil Liberties Union has even warned against Siri, advising that iPhone 4S users turn the virtual assistant off.

Bottom line – if privacy is a big concern of yours, don’t use Siri.  It’s just that simple.  If you’re not protecting any key company secrets and privacy is not that big a deal for you, ask away.

Be sure to keep using that Gmail account, though.  We all know that’s safe.  Right?  Right??