Extensive security measures are necessary because so many of the machines are expected to be built, making them a large target for mischief.
One particularly thorny potential problem is that the laptops can communicate with one another in a “mesh” network, sharing data and programming code. A computing web site reported last week that Krstic had described that setup to the ToorCon security conference as “very scary.”
But he contended to The Associated Press that the comment was taken out of context.
“We have code-sharing in the machines, which is really scary if we were not paying attention to it,” he said. “But we think we have solutions to all of these problems.”
One of the principal organizers of ToorCon, George Spillman, said Krstic’s presentation was “very well received” because the $100-laptop designers have thought a great deal about security, but “they’re not arrogant enough to believe they have everything locked down.”
Spillman believes at least some of the measures Krstic described are likely to be successful, though he cautioned: “There’s always going to be some kind of a hole somewhere.”
Walter Bender, a co-founder of MIT’s Media Lab who is overseeing software and content on the $100 laptops, said children should be able to tinker with the laptops and learn how they work. To that end, these security measures can be turned off by the machines’ owners.
To protect against that leading to disaster, the laptops will back up their data automatically on a server whenever the machines get in wireless range of the children’s school. If a child loses data, the files can be restored by bringing the laptop within wireless range of the server, organizers said.
One Laptop Per Child