[ISN] IBM beefs up notebook security

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Sat Jan 30 1999 - 11:36:18 PST

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    IBM beefs up notebook security
    By Brooke Crothers
    Staff Writer, CNET News.com
    January 27, 1999, 11:15 a.m. PT
    IBM unveiled new notebook PCs with advanced security technology and speed
    upgrades based on the newest Intel chips.
    IBM announced what it calls "secure" notebooks which are equipped with
    Asset ID, a "radio frequency-based security and asset tracking
    technology," the company said. 
    IBM also said that new ThinkPads come with the latest and greatest Intel
    300- and 366-MHz Pentium II processors, support for advanced AGP 3D
    graphics technology, and software for playing back DVD titles and movies. 
    Other improvements include a 14 gigabyte hard drive--the largest capacity
    drive to appear in a mainstream notebook--and extra high-resolution LCD
    screens in the 770Z model. Prices for this high-end line start at about
    $4,800. The popular slim-design ThinkPad 600E model comes with slightly
    smaller screens and hard drive sizes--and is less expensive, starting at
    around $3,000. 
    For these two models, IBM's Asset ID solution combines a radio frequency
    ID tag and a handheld radio frequency (RF) scanner to read and store
    information--such as serial number and key component data--about every
    ID-enabled ThinkPad 770Z and 600E in a company's inventory, IBM said. 
    The security technology is aimed at reducing the cost of owning notebooks
    by making sure they stay with their proper owner. Some 51 percent of U.S. 
    companies have experienced notebook theft in the last 6 months, IBM said. 
    The technology could also be a boon to information system managers who are
    in charge of tracking orders of notebooks numbering into the thousands.
    New notebooks don't even have to be taken out of the box for someone to
    add information about the notebook such as lease expiration dates, a
    feature which could help a company save money, said Phil Hester, vice
    president and chief technology officer, IBM Personal Systems Group. 
    Also, if the system is removed without authorization through a door
    protected by an RF sensor, IBM Asset ID will automatically cause the
    ThinkPad to become password-protected. 
    Added security features One model in each of the 600 and 770 series
    notebooks includes special circuitry and a programmable chip. Resellers
    working under IBM's version of build-to-order manufacturing, called the
    Authorized Assembler program, insert a custom hard drive with an antennae
    built in. 
    While IBM is making two motherboards for both notebook lines, raising the
    possibility of inventory management issues for the company, IBM's Hester
    said the security technology is being included in the high volume
    "workhorse" model of the line, which changes less rapidly than other
    models. Corporate customers often ask for notebook designs that change
    infrequently so as to make management of inventory easier. 
    Quotes delayed 20+ minutesIBM also said that it is shipping a Smart Card
    Security Kit, which includes security software, a smart card, and a smart
    card reader installed in a notebook PC Card slot. If this is enabled,
    users insert a personalized smart card to authorize access. 
    IBM cites average annual losses from computer hardware theft at about $8
    billion last year. Notebooks, in particular, are vulnerable to theft
    because of their size and the fact that they are often carried from place
    to place. 
    IBM also unveiled mobile options for the 770Z and 600E models and other
    ThinkPads. IBM said hard drive capacity can be doubled by adding a second
    10GB drive to the ThinkPad 600E or a second 14GB drive to the ThinkPad
    CNET News.com's Jim Davis contributed to this report.
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