Phoenix Releases New BIOS For Laptop Security

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Phoenix Technologies can't stop people from losing their laptops, but the BIOS developer is trying to make sure all is not lost when it happens.

Phoenix, which has roughly 60 percent of the mobile PC market, on Monday released FailSafe, a new BIOS built to allow remote touch into notebooks for security purposes.

"This is first product we're bringing to market following a year of developing new products," said Phoenix CTO Gaurav Banga. "We've added key technology, such as anti-PAP measures, based on infrastructure in place like [Intel's] vPro. The focus for this product isn't the enterprise, but every consumer who buys PCs in the world."

FailSafe connects mobile PCs to a Phoenix-hosted server, which can remotely trigger a number of theft-prevention and data recovery measures should the owner lose the device. Those measures include the ability to lock down the device, wipe it clean or portions of it, locate the missing unit with GPS tracking, and an automatic alarm sent to law enforcement.

In addition, FailSafe features many of the same remote management tools Intel has found a great market for in vPro, Banga said.

"VPro is good for the enterprise, but how do you get it at the personal level? Intel has almost washed their hands of it, saying you won't get vPro unless you sign on with a big systems management company," he said.

As with vPro, managed service providers might see an opportunity with FailSafe for simplifying remote system management and security, particularly with the growth of the mobile work force, Banga said.

N-able, a vendor of managed services software, has built its MSP platform to take advantage of vPro. August Wehrmann, the Ottawa-based company's VP of R&D, thinks Phoenix might be on to something similarly beneficial to MSPs with FailSafe.

"It solves a big problem on the theft and security side. And that's huge. With one of our software agents phoning into Phoenix, I could see us leveraging that. I'm sure there's going to be some hooks. They're solving a huge problem," Wehrmann said.

"If they have some kind of management console, they'll be ready to go out of the gate."

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