NEW YORK -- Interop -- Sprint yesterday announced that it is adding an optional piece of hardware for its mobile broadband service users that will enable companies to secure, manage, and enforce policy on laptop PCs.
Sprint will be the first U.S. distributor of Alcatel-Lucent's Laptop Guardian, a PCMCIA device that attaches to the laptop, preventing unauthorized use by both employees and thieves. Originally developed by Bell Labs and Alcatel-Lucent Ventures as Project Evros, the card technology was first unveiled in February. (See 3G Card Secures Laptops.)
The Sprint deal paves the way for U.S. enterprises to get their hands on Laptop Guardian, an innovative piece of battery-driven hardware that links to the laptop and stores configuration information, patches, access privileges, and other data downloaded to the PC while it is powered off.
Enterprises can dictate that laptops will not be allowed to fully boot or access the corporate network without the Laptop Guardian, forcing the end user to use the enterprise VPN for all activity, and eliminating the opportunity for users to contract viruses or malware via unauthorized connections. If the laptop is stolen, remote administrators can simply revoke access to the laptop via Laptop Guardian, which also encrypts data on the drive.
In addition, the battery-powered Laptop Guardian also stores data for the laptop when it is not powered on or connected to the network. IT administrators can distribute patches, do backups, or change PC configurations on mobile PCs during off hours, and the Laptop Guardian will upload the changes as soon as the PC is turned on.
"This is not a stolen laptop solution, it's a mobile blind spot solution," says Dor Skuler, general manager for mobile security solutions at the Enterprise Solutions Division of Alcatel-Lucent. "It allows the administrator to do anything to the mobile laptop that they would do to a PC that's on the wired network, plus some functions that are specific to the mobile user."
Laptop Guardian is not being offered directly to U.S. enterprises, but can only be obtained through Sprint services. Alcatel-Lucent may eventually offer it through other mobile service providers, Skuler says.
Tom Moore, director of mobile broadband services at Sprint, says the device goes hand-in-hand with wireless service. "You need the reach of a mobile broadband network to make the changes, no matter where the user happens to be," he says. "At the same time, as a carrier, we love this because it allows the user to take advantage of network availability during off hours."
The SprintSecure Laptop Guardian will be packaged along with Sprint's Mobile Broadband service for an additional charge of around $5 per unit, Moore says.
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