No Panic Computing makes big bet on security

Four years ago, Larry Keating’s concept of notebook-as-a-service was lauded as an innovative approach to managing hardware assets.

Today, Keating, who is still president of No Panic Computing (NPC) as well as his Markham, Ont.-based manufacturer’s representative firm Keating Technologies, is switching gears and putting the focus on security for his notebook-as-a-service business.

When NPC was launched four years ago, Keating brought to market a line of power notebooks from Hewlett-Packard Co. running Intel microprocessors that attempted to maintain or reduce the cost of managing notebooks for small-to-mid-size companies.

That’s still the case for NPC, but Keating added that “it’s more about safe computing today.”

Keating tells the story of a 30-person law firm that was broken into by thieves who stole all of company’s PCs. The law firm was covered by insurance and got brand new PCs within days of the robbery, only to see the crooks come back and steal their new equipment.

Keating said that he has heard of many more stories like this one because there is a disconnect in the marketplace. “The behaviour of business people has to change. There is a belief out there that the hardware is more valuable; when it’s the data,” Keating said.

NPC commissioned a study on business behavior by research firm Angus Reid that found that most business owners (81 per cent) trust their employees to know the security policy and procedures. More than 83 per cent of the respondents of this Canadian-only study thought they were protected.

But in reality, the Angus Reid study found that one-in-eight work notebooks have been stolen, while one-in-seven of those incidents reported a data loss of some kind.

“There is a contradiction in the marketplace and I believe business has their collective heads in the sand. It’s like leaving an entire filing cabinet open on the curb,” Keating said.

The study also found that one-in-12 businesses have lost money because of a security breach.

With this shift in focus to security, NPC has enhanced its security to military-grade, Keating said. NPC back up and security is provided by HP’s Autonomy unit, which at one time was Iron Mountain. With the Rogers embedded systems, NPC can watch for malware attacks instantly.

If an NPCs client has their notebook stolen or lost the user will get a new one via FedEx within 24 hours. During that transition period the user can log onto a safe VPN and continue working from any PC in any location.

Back up is assured through NPC. The Angus Reid study found that 16 per cent of businesses in Canada still do not back up data at all, while 45 per cent do not have adequate back up. “That’s crazy,” said Keating.

Weak passwords are also an issue, according to the study. One-in-seven people write the password on a sticky note or have it taped to the laptop.

With NPC notebooks users log on via a fingerprint reader. Keating calls it a “vault for passwords” because a user can have multiple passwords for different applications and cloud services.

NPC’s channel plan is still to recruit solution providers across the country. NPC has managed to sign up notable solution providers such as Acrodex, CDW Canada and Source44. NPC will pay an agency fee of $300 to solution providers for every system sold. It goes up to $445 for a Rogers embedded system.

Keating said that solution providers today do not make a lot of margin on the end point device and are focusing more of their attention on bigger computing solutions. With NPC it still gives solution providers the ability to own the customer.

“When we started four years ago the market was not interested in paying for security. But now with so much media and education on data breaches they know the impact it has on business. We can now lead with security and they are listening,” Keating said.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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