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Laptop-tracking tool beefs up info security

Alcatel-Lucent and SingTel partner in Singapore to offer a product that gives companies remote control over a laptop's security, even if it goes missing.

SINGAPORE--Alcatel-Lucent released its remote laptop security offering in the country today, partnering local telco, SingTel, to offer it to Singaporean businesses.

The product, comprising a gateway server, software client and laptop data card, is touted to beef up information security for companies by allowing IT departments to remotely control laptops. Should a laptop go missing, the administrator can wipe out its hard disk or lock down the device remotely.


Alcatel-Lucent's PCMCIA data card for use with laptops

The PCMCIA data card carries a GPS receiver and will hold a SIM card to relay location data via SingTel's mobile network if the laptop is not connected to the Internet, so the device can be tracked on a map. It houses a battery so it stays powered up when the laptop is turned off.

Ricky Ong, director, security solutions, enterprise business group, Alcatel-Lucent Asia-Pacific, said during the press launch, the product package called the OmniAccess 3500, aims to provide an easy way to secure company information while removing the user from the equation.

"Many users have to jump through hoops to stay secure," said Ong, listing out common procedures such as logging onto virtual private networks (VPNs). "The device is like a single sign-on system, and it's automatic for users," he said.

Too expensive for most SMBs
Ong Geok Chwee, director of business development and segment marketing of SingTel's business group, said the offering is targeted toward larger enterprises. She added some SMBs may sign up to secure laptops belonging to upper management.

Marc Einstein, senior industry analyst, Frost & Sullivan, told ZDNet Asia in a phone interview, the product would likely receive interest from governments or very large enterprises with sensitive information such as banks.

However, Einstein said the barriers to adoption were too high for the SMB segment, since the product requires companies to install the Alcatel-Lucent gateway server in addition to the monthly data subscription.

Companies can purchase a mid-range server for S$4,600 (US$3,079) that will support 500 laptop cards, or one for S$8,500 (US$5,690) that will support 10,000. Each card will cost $700 (US$468).

In addition to the set up cost, the monthly license is priced between S$29 (US$19) to S$51 (US$34) depending on the speed of the data connection.

Einstein did not rule out "niche interest" from some SMBs, however, "depending on what their business is like, and how sensitive the information they handle is".

He said the offering has come at a time where interest in data protection is high, thanks to high-profile cases of data loss from governments and banks alike.

"There is huge demand and willingness to pay for information security," he said.