Netbooks Are A Security Risk


Low-cost laptops are vulnerable because many of them come without standard security software, according to experts

Netbooks are the one bright spot in the PC market, but they could be open to attack because they do not have basic security tools, say experts.

Made popular by Asustek, netbooks are now available from almost all vendors including Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer and Lenovo. Netbooks have brought PCs to non-traditional users, and made a useful second machine for those already equipped, but the personal data that is on them might not be safe.

Netbooks can cost around £200, and lack standard features such as firewalls and anti-virus. Theey are often owned by less-expert users, who lack the skills to add free security software. More expert users may face a different problem: they may shut down any security features to make the most of low-powered processors.

“Frankly, netbook security is not there yet,” said Pranab Sarmah, an analyst at the Daiwa Institute of Research said in a Reuters story. “The positioning of the netbook means PC brands are going to do whatever it takes to make the price point attractive to consumers, which means keeping costs low.”

IDC research has predicted that netbooks will grow fast, more than doubling in 2009, to reach 21 million in 2009, in contrast with the overall PC market which will climb by four percent to reach 304 million.

Asustek has defended its record, pointing to a tie-up with Semantec that puts basic security features. But the security issue may be a factor that keeps netbooks out of most business users’ hands. 

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