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Netbooks may rob you of privacy

world Updated: Mar 03, 2009 23:49 IST

Netbook web surfers beware. That low-cost netbook you're using could be a high-speed gateway into your life, bank accounts, passwords and other personal data.

Netbooks have made headlines since their 2007 launch, making PCs accessible to millions of non-traditional users. But their cheap cost could also carry a steep price tag due tos lax security that makes them easier prey for viruses and hackers.

Since their introduction less than two years ago by Taiwan’s Asustek, nearly all major PC makers, including Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer and Lenovo, have jumped on the netbook bandwagon.

But their no frills nature, combined with low computing power and relative lack of sophistication among their users could combine to create the perfect storm for hackers and virus creators looking for easy targets, analysts say.

“The Internet is full of dangers, regardless of what computer you are using,” said Sam Yen, greater China marketing manager at anti-virus software maker Symantec.

“But keeping in mind that the netbook is primarily used to surf the Internet, those dangers are possibly multiplied many-fold, especially if there is no anti-virus software installed in the machine.”

Price tags as low as $300 mean that netbooks often lack such standard gear as firewalls and other anti-virus software typically found in other computers, leaving them highly vulnerable to attacks.

Many netbook users are relative Internet newcomers, and may not be aware of precautions they can take to protect themselves.

Low computing power also means savvy netbook users may shut down critical security programs to boost speed.