Netbooks are cheapish, fairly basic in features, portable and keep going for hours if you are careful to buy one with a 6-cell battery. But are they secure?

It's a valid question. Do low-cost computers have the power to run the anti-malware programs other laptop users would never dare home without? What about the sclerotic Windows XP firewall? Or any firewall? Or a secure VPN back to HQ? Or encrypt and decrypt decent amounts of data without making the user wait?

I have yet to read a single review of these machines that devotes more than the odd sentence to such worries, which might have something to do with the fact that they tend to be reviewed by consumer-oriented titles and amateurs on YouTube for which they are little more than ‘dinky kit'.

Poke any marketing manager for a large anti-virus software outfit and you'll certainly receive a ‘concerned' response, but that doesn't exactly raise the issue to a higher plane. Such people would sell AV for integrated ovens if they thought they could get away with it.

Another view is simpler; buy Linux netbooks and avoid 99 percent of the hassle.

The fact that netbooks don't have corporate levels of security is an indictment of security not the netbook concept. It seems to me introducing the whole over-engineered idea of software security that plagues today's PCs is a recipe for unnecessary expense and complexity. That is not what netbooks are supposed to be about.

Netbooks in their current form will not work with most large companies any more than some laptops will work in such enterprises, and should not be shoehorned into doing so. What those companies need are a new class of netbooks that allow portable computing to work without (as has often been the case in the past) asking for a capital outlay in excess of £1000.

Portable computing doesn't have to be perfect to be viable, it has to be portable. Netbooks have re-invigorated the idea of the portable computer in a perfectly compromised form, and the lack of response from security companies to this evolution should not be used to disparage the usefulness of the idea.