High Security for $100 Laptop

The One Laptop Per Child project, which proposes to give every child in the developing world a computer of his own, dazzled fans with the unveiling of its little green "$100 laptop" in November 2005. Now it's impressing hard-bitten security geeks with a plan to lock down the hundreds of millions of educational machines against spyware and computer intruders. The laptop, officially called the XO, includes a swiveling LCD screen that can switch between low-resolution color and higher-resolution black-and-white. It also has a camera and microphone that enable clear video calls, three USB ports, 128 MB of RAM, 512 MB of flash storage, built-in Wi-Fi with extraordinary range, a long-lasting battery rechargeable by a cord or car battery, and a custom, Linux-based operating system that prefers tags to a traditional file system. Every full-grown geek who sees the 7.5-inch screen asks how they can buy one.

Millions of XO laptops are expected to go into production late in 2007, with Thailand, Brazil, Uruguay and Rwanda, among others, signed up for the launch. If all goes according to plan, that will make the XO laptop's operating system one of the more common platforms in the world. And with kids as young as 6 as target users, hackers may already be dreaming of taking computers from babies through rogue code. But it should come as no surprise -- given how thoroughly the project has rewritten the conventions of what a laptop should be -- that the XO's security isn't built on firewalls and antivirus software...

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News source: Wired News

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