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HP muscles in on small-business security

Company is attempting to simplify security for small companies that lack IT resources or knowledge.

Hewlett-Packard is attempting to simplify security for small companies lacking IT resources or knowledge.

The company has teamed with Symantec to help small and midsize businesses avoid virus and spyware attacks but will also offer services for patch management and data backup.

HP will charge $20 per month per employee for a new security and data backup service.

HP customers who were present Thursday in New York at the launch of the company's Smart Desktop Management Service said the move can be a big help to businesses.

Chuck Ostrowski, director of IT for Los Angeles law firm Weston Benshoof, said that the math makes sense. "It might not stop something from happening, but it really decreases the risks," he said.

HP said the service will help small and midsize businesses keep critical business processes running and will back up the most important data for customers. But when launching the service, the company was unclear about its commitment to pay up if it lost any customer data. When asked whether it would give compensation, company executives didn't have an answer.

"It's a good question, but I don't know the answer," said Kevin Gilroy, senior vice president and general manager for HP's small and medium-size business unit. "The question that is interesting is how you put a value on that data."

Dan Ilett of Silicon.com reported from London.