HP makes SME security move

For just over £10 per user per month, HP is now offering a combined backup, patch management and anti-malware service

HP will charge $20 (£11) per month per employee for a new security and data back-up service it launched on Thursday in a bid to break into the SME security market.

HP is attempting to simplify security practices for small companies lacking IT resources or knowledge.

The company has teamed with Symantec to help SMEs avoid virus and spyware attacks but will also offer services for patch management and data back-up.

Andy Bose, chairman of analyst house AMI Partners, said: "It's a financial and forced market entry strategy. HP is trying to open up the market as other vendors are realising there are more SMEs to sell services to. So we may see some more announcements in this space."

HP customers who were present at the launch of the company's Smart Desktop Management Service in New York on Thursday said the move would help small businesses to manage security.

Chuck Ostrowski, director of IT for Los Angeles law firm Weston Benshoof, said: "$200 a month would even be worth it... It might not stop something from happening but it really decreases the risks."

HP said it would help SMEs keep critical business processes running and back up the most important data for customers. But when launching the service, the company was unclear over its commitment to pay up if it lost any customer data. When asked whether it would give compensation, company officials were baffled.

Kevin Gilroy, senior vice-president and general manager for HP's SME unit, said: "It's a good question but I don't know the answer. The question that is interesting is how you put a value on that data."

Gilroy later insisted that HP was working just as hard to build security into its computers as it was to sell security services. "On our machines we are absolutely committed to quality," he said. "But security is dynamic. It's difficult to build a server that's going to survive a tsunami or a 9/11 but be absolutely assured that we're committed to it."