Gateway Secures Its PCs

 
 
By John G. Spooner  |  Posted 2005-08-09
 
 
 

Gateway is locking down its business PC line.

The Irvine, Calif., PC maker on Tuesday said it has fitted TPMs (Trusted Platform Modules), chips that serve to help secure data, to its corporate notebook and desktop product lines. It sells the business machines direct to customers.

The TPMs will be offered in all of Gateway Inc.s corporate notebooks and in all but one of its E-Series desktops.

The company will also offer a service that can track and help recover lost or stolen laptops.

Collectively, the new security features are meant to answer the needs of Gateways business customers, reassure students who are purchasing laptops for school, and help set its products apart from competitors, many of whom also offer TPMs, a Gateway executive said.

"Everybody faces security challenges today, whether youre a corporation or and end user trying to buy [an item] off of eBay," said William Diehl, vice president of product marketing at Gateway. Thus "We will be building some pretty interesting security solutions around this" TPM module.

Diehl declined to offer more details on Gateways overall security plan. Although he hinted that Gateway wants to make using TPMs for practices such as managing passwords or encrypting sensitive data on a computers hard drive easier.

TPMs can also be used to help secure e-mail and Web access, among other applications.

Gateway began laying the groundwork for its plans Tuesday, when it announced that it was adopting a special network card, made by Broadcom Corp., which incorporates a TPM that complies with the Trusted Computing Groups TPM Specification Version 1.2, the latest available security chip standard.

Gateway has added the TPM-equipped card to machines such as its Gateway 460 notebook, which starts at under $1,100 with a 15-inch display, and its E-Series 4500, a $999 desktop based on Intel Corp.s Pentium 4 processor. Only its E-Series 2500, its low-cost desktop, will not have the chip.

The companys Mobile Theft Protection Solution, available on all of Gateways corporate notebooks, uses Absolute Software Corp.s Computrace, which can locate laptops that are reported lost or stolen computers once they connect to the Internet.

Once a connection is made, information about the online account that the machine is using can be provided to police. The package can also be used to quietly delete sensitive data remotely.

The feature is built into each notebook models hardware, making it more difficult to defeat. However, customers must pay extra for a subscription to the service that supports it. A three-year subscription starts at $99, Gateway said.

As a notebook owner, this "allows you to have piece of mind," Diehl said.

Separately on Tuesday, Gateway said in a statement that a United States International Trade Commission ruling against it, resulting from its patent dispute with Hewlett-Packard Co., would give it time to change its PCs designs, if necessary, and therefore would not disrupt its PC shipments.

The United States International Trade Commission ruled on Monday that Gateway infringed on two of seven HP printer patents, which were the subject of a 2004 ITC action filed by HP against Gateway.

The ruling upheld four claims, finding that Gateway PCs contain circuitry that would allow them to use certain parts of the printer technology, Gateway said in a statement.

Gateway, which plans to appeal part of the ruling, said that if the ITC were to accept the findings, a resulting order banning the company from importing PCs containing the HP technology would not take effect until February 2006, giving it time to make changes.

A Gateway counterclaim, which accuses HP of violating several Gateway multimedia patents, is still pending. A decision is due in October, Gateway said.

Editors Note: This story was updated to change the price of a three-year subscription to Gateways Mobile Theft Protection Solution service. The price originally supplied by Gateway was inaccurate.

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