Alcatel-Lucent to secure mobile workers with always-on datacard

News by Richard Thurston

The company is to bring to market next month a GPS and 3G enabled datacard which should give IT administrators 24/7 visibility of users' mobile devices

Alcatel-Lucent's enterprise business is starting to reap the security expertise of the company's research arm, Bell Labs.

Alcatel and Lucent merged in 2006, bringing together the enterprise comms expertise of the former with the service provider and research work of the latter.

The combined company is now starting to filter through some of the research work from Bell Labs into its enterprise portfolio.

One of the fruits of that work is a GPS-enabled 3G datacard which acts as a security mechanism for mobile workers.

The datacard fits in the PCMCIA slot of a laptop and, because it has its own battery, is permanently on, giving IT administrators round-the-clock access.

That means administrators can download security updates to the datacard or perform back-ups, even when the user's laptop is turned off. When the user's laptop is turned off, security updates are stored on the datacard, and installed as soon as the laptop is booted up.

The datacard, called the Non-stop Laptop Guardian (NLG), contains its own CPU, hardened Linux OS and flash memory.

It encrypts all data on the user's laptop using keys installed on the card, so if the card is lost, data becomes unreadable. The card can also be disabled by IT administrators if the laptop is stolen and the GPS radio used to track the device. The NLG also provides an automatic VPN tunnel into the corporate network, helping to prevent data leakage.

Michael Hardiman, Alcatel-Lucent's director of business development for security solutions, said the NLG would help solve the security headache associated with mobile workers.

He told SCMagazine today: "When I'm on the LAN I have the control. When I'm mobile, I lose that control: the laptop becomes your security hole. We are providing an always-on capability to remotely manage, monitor and secure laptops."

Hardiman said the NLG will be available in the UK in late June from n3k, a DNS specialist, and Magdalene, a network support firm. Alcatel-Lucent is also in discussions with the mobile network operators to try to persuade them to resell the product.

Several UK corporates are known to be trialling the NLG, but Hardiman declined to reveal names.

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