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Intel reveals 'the billion dollar lost laptop problem'

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Squirrelly users

Users came in for their share of blame, as well. Ponemon said those worthies often muck about with IT-installed security measures: "Even things like encryption, for example — file encryption, not whole-disk encryption — it's pretty easy to turn it off. And a lot of end users are saying, 'How can I circumvent the security system? My booting up everyday, it's another 10 seconds — or the degradation is a nanosecond — I don't want to live with that.'

"So the company thinks everything's okay," he said, "but the end user is really carrying a loaded gun."

But users' lackadaisical attitude is easily understood, said Ponemon: "For the most part end users aren't security people, and they don't care about security, and they see it as an incovenience."

The solution — and here's where Intel's "third pillar" comes in — is to make laptop security a no-brainer. "The more you can 'idiot proof' — excuse that statement — or make it easy or invisible to the user," Ponemon said, "the more successful you're going to be."

Beaver think that hardware-based security is inevitable. "It might be next year, it might be five or 10 years from now, but I do think there will be a general expectation from people across the board, like 'Hey you, Mr. Hardware Vendor, what are you doing to protect my data?'"

Despite the clear connection of the panel's message to Intel's McAfee aquisition, Beaver was the only panelist to mention it, even in passing:

One of the things I've always said is that unless and until the hardware vendors implement security at that level — in the factory — I think we're going to continue having data-security probllems. Be it something like anti-theft technology ... [or] something related to an acquisition recently, I think that is going to help facilitate a lot of security and help fulfill a lot of exectations down the road.

Pashupathy may not have spoken directly about Intel's third pillar, but he did wax rhapsodically about the promise of hardware-based laptop security: "Our goal — at least my product's goal — is to embed [security] in hardware, and build out an ecosystem such that it does become a standard over time. It's not a standard today, but that would be nirvana." ®

Bootnote

Ponemon also spoke of one immediate and low-tech way to increase the security of your company's laptops: "Some companies now require you to put a label, a company label, like 'I work for Accenture'," onto employees' laptops, he said. "It's probably a bad idea to do that, even though it might make it easier for you to say, 'That is my Dell,' and not somebody else's and by accident take someone's computer that looks the same. But it may, in fact, increase the risk of theft, and we have some early evidence that suggests that."

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