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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

April 27, 2009 at 11:01 AM

The cost of stolen laptops, and the security features planned for Windows 7

Our Business section ran a story today about the high cost of lost or stolen laptops. According to the story, which came from the San Jose Mercury News:

A typical lost or stolen laptop costs employers $49,246, mostly from the value of the missing intellectual property or other sensitive data, according to an Intel-commissioned study made public last week.

Microsoft is expected to make its release candidate for Windows 7 available for developers Thursday, signaling the final testing phase for the software. The company has been touting its security features, both in briefings and at the recent RSA conference.

“Windows 7 allows people to work everywhere while IT pros can feel secure about their data,” said Gavriella Schuster, senior director of Windows commercial product management, in an interview earlier this month. Schuster says she feels anxiety every time she puts her laptop on a conveyor belt to go through a security checkpoint at the airport. She said using Windows XP to keep a laptop safe is “like trying to keep a bear out with a picket fence.”

Elsewhere I’ve seen this quote repeated as a chain-link fence, but you get the idea. Everybody loves a good metaphor. I would prefer the equivalent of the sonic fence on the island of “Lost,” which would keep out malware and smoke monsters.

To protect data on stolen laptops, Windows 7 has a feature called BitLocker. This allows for secure volume encryption that encrypts a laptop. The idea is if it’s stolen, no one can get data without a password. This technology can also be used to encrypt a USB thumb drive. On the downside, it will turn that thumb drive into a read-only device on PCs that have not upgraded to Windows 7.

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