Computer World has an article claiming that “small laptops pose a big security threat.” The gist of the article is this: Since netbooks are less powerful than your typical notebook or desktop, they often run older software like Windows XP or a simplified version of Linux that might not have all the security benefits of newer software. What’s more, because many netbooks have limited processing power, users may not want to run data encryption, anti-virus software, or other anti-malware apps that can be resource hogs. Therefore, if you use a netbook for enterprise work, there’s a chance you’re taking unecessary risks.
And that’s all true to an extent. But here’s the thing: That can be true of any computer that doesn’t have the lastest software updates, or any cellphone or PDA that can connect to your corporate network.
There are a few easy ways around this “problem.” First, you could decide not to purchase netbooks for enterprise use in the first place and just treat them as consumer oriented laptops. But there are advantages to using netbooks for business purposes. They’re portable, which lets your employees work from home or the road more easily. And they’re cheap. Like, you could buy 2-4 netbooks for the price of one laptop cheap.
All you really need to do is treat netbooks the way you would more expensive laptops if you want them to be secure. If they ship with Xandros or Linpus Linux Lite and you’re not convinced it’s secure enough, load the latest version of Ubuntu, Fedora, or Mandriva. Don’t think the Windows machines have enough processing power to run your applications? Upgrade the RAM. It’s easy to do on virtually every available netbook. And if you want to get really ambitious, you may be able to replace Windows XP with Windows Vista which offers a number of security enhancements. Sure, it’ll boot slower and take up more disk space, but Windows Vista runs surprisingly well on some low powered netbooks.