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Lenovo Adds Fingerprint Security to ThinkPads

ThinkPad notebooks will now allow users to encrypt their hard drives at the press of a finger.

ThinkPad notebooks from Chinese computer-maker Lenovo Ltd., which already let the user log on with a thumbprint instead of a password, will now allow users to encrypt their hard drives at the press of a finger.

The company planned to announce the new security technology on Monday.

The program works with Utimaco's SafeGuard Easy software, which has received certification from the U.S. government for purchase by its agencies, according to Clain Anderson, director of the company's ThinkVantage technologies.

To unauthorized users, the encrypted hard drive will appear to be meaningless information.

The announcement comes amid growing concerns about data theft due to lost or stolen laptops.

Alarm rose in May when a laptop with information on more than 26.5 million military personnel was stolen from a Veterans Affairs Department employee. The laptop was recovered, and investigators said sensitive data had not been copied.

In a report released in September, the Commerce Department acknowledged losing 1,137 laptops since 2001, most of which had been used by the Census Bureau.

"Everybody's looking for stronger security without making it harder to use," Anderson said. "This is a very strong protection level that makes (data) very easy to get to."

The option will be available on the newest ThinkPad models in series 60 and higher. The machines may be purchased online starting Tuesday and in stores shortly thereafter, Anderson said.

Lenovo is the world's No. 3 maker of personal computers. It bought IBM's PC division last year.

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