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BP oils the wheels of heated security debate

It's a Reader Comments spectacular...
Written by Will Sturgeon, Contributor

It's a Reader Comments spectacular...

BP has provoked heated debate in the UK technology industry with plans to move thousands of laptops off its LAN claiming it will make the business more secure.

BP said hiding behind a firewall simply creates a false sense of security and so 18,000 of its 85,000 laptops now connect straight to the internet, even when they are in an office.

Ken Douglas, technology director of BP, said "the LAN has to go" and his work now is to protect the laptops against the threats which lurk online.

And it's a decision which has divided the industry.

Many silicon.com readers have hit out at the move – questioning both sanity and practicality – but a great many others have been vocal in their praise of Douglas and his vision.

"Why not?" asked one reader of the decision. "Most hackers concentrate on LANs and how to break through the LAN securities in place. Individual computers seem to just be regular computers to the outside world and hackers and they may be bypassed."

Another wrote: "What BP is doing makes complete sense. Instead of fighting the battle on two fronts, they are just treating laptops as insecure devices. This reduces the complexity of the whole problem. It does not reduce their ability to track issues, or determine cause."

Rich T, a consultant from the US, wrote: "I understand what BP is doing and it makes sense. The only issue with this is the high cost of making sure all the laptops are properly protected but this should already be part of their IT strategy."

He added: "The only people who may be upset about this are the hackers trying to get in or the employees who may find it more difficult to access some internal systems."

But it wasn't all praise. Another reader wrote in asking: "If connected directly to the internet, how does the admin handle filtering internet content? Even if the corporation is not concerned about 'fantasy sports' sites and their potential impact on productivity, what about inappropriate content?

"Are we saying that people at work are no longer acting as 'agents' of the company and therefore the company is no longer responsible for what they do on the internet while working?

"I'm assuming that once connected to the internet, the laptop user would have to use VPN to access office resources and once connected, their access can be controlled. But if they disconnect VPN, aren't they now back in the wild?"

And although other readers had concerns about the practicality, security and resources required for such a process, another reader appeared to sum up the thinking of many others.

"There are very few truly innovative organisations that really push the boundaries to help create tomorrow's stuff, and I applaud BP for trying."

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