Ultrabooks get affordable McAfee anti-theft syetem

Remote security with teeth

Worried about losing that expensive new Ultrabook and the data contained on it? McAfee hopes the latest version of the company's Anti-Theft device-tracking security will tempt more consumers buying a slimline laptop to add this extra level of security to their shopping list.

Integrated at silicon and BIOS level, the new version offers a wide range of security features, starting with the obvious one of locate and track which can be activated to trace a lost or stolen laptop when connected to the Internet, including via Wi-Fi, GPS, and 3G.

Users can also enable a 'lock-down' mode through which access to the device can be disabled and a 'stealth' mode that surreptitiously encrypts data without a thief being aware of this. Locks can be activated manually or according to a defined time period.

The anti-tamper feature makes it impossible to bypass encryption simply be removing the drive from the Ultrabook, the company said. Encryption keys were stored in hardware and remotely deleted if necessary.

"McAfee Anti-Theft enables consumers to take proactive measures to protect their data and personal information in the event their Ultrabook system is lost or stolen," said McAfee consumer business unit senior vice president, Steve Petracca.

"Intel Anti-Theft Technology is an example of a feature built into the silicon, that when coupled with software and services, better protects the things consumers care most about - identity, data and devices - for a more worry-free computing experience and greater peace of mind right from the start."

Anti-theft systems have found only modest uptake in laptops, especially amongst consumers, but McAfee parent company Intel clearly sees Ultrabooks as being the moment the technology stands a chance of going mainstream.

That alone probably explains the tempting price being used to dangle the technology in front of consumer — US$24.99 for a year's protection.

With revenues for antivirus software under some pressure, a sideline in physical security built atop features inside Intel's chips looks like a viable strategy for the first time.

Australian availability and pricing of McAfee Anti-Theft for Ultrabooks has not been confirmed.

Rival systems include Absolute Security's Computrace Lo-Jack system.

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John E Dunn

Techworld

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