SAN FRANCISCO -- HP launched a new security initiative designed specifically for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) at a media event here Tuesday.

The new bundle from the Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer and printer maker includes new services, software, bundles and partner offerings.

With the Yankee Group reporting that as much as 33 percent of SMBs have experienced business disruption due to security issues, and 87 percent experiencing a security breach in the last 12 months, the need for improved practices and software protection is great - and as is the business opportunity for HP .

As part of the package, HP introduced its ProtectTools Credential Manager - a GUI-based tool that lets administrators provide single sign-on for Web sites, applications and Windows. The company also introduced three security-oriented iPAQ Pocket PCs, several deals on antivirus and spyware prevention products, and integrated patch management into its administration tool -- HP Systems Insight Manager.

Even when a vulnerability is known, the problem often isn't addressed by SMBs because they may lack dedicated personnel or security management tools, said Nigel Ball, vice president of small and medium business solutions for HP.

Mixing in the ProLiant Essentials Vulnerability and Patch Management pack into Systems Insight Manager lets SMB administrators use a familiar interface to identify and resolve security issues, Ball said.

"If the SMB is used to using the manager as a normal routine, it will be able to run vulnerability assessments and apply patches as part of that routine. It takes SMBs into a more proactive process," he said.

HP also moved to introduce consumers and SMBs to antivirus products by offering free trials. New HP notebooks and desktop PCs now ship with Symantec's Norton Antivirus software pre-installed for a 60-day free trial. SMBs that install Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 on HP's ProLiant servers can get a 90-day free license for Trend Micro's Client/Server/Messaging Suite. The SMB designed specifically for non-technical small business owners offers antivirus, anti-spam, anti-spyware and e-mail filtering.

HP announced that Sygate Security Agent 4.0 for Microsoft Windows XP Embedded would be pre-loaded on HP Compaq t5710 thin clients beginning in January 2005.

The new HP iPAQ hx2000 handheld series introduced on Tuesday includes enhanced security for data and wireless connections, a biometric fingerprint reader option and Credant Technologies security software for authentication and data encryption.

Much of the initiative is in the form of information and tools for customers. HP expects channel partners to do most of the actual sales, Ball said; he said they sell about 90 percent of HP products bought by SMBs.

"We help the channel partners have a simpler conversation with the customer and recommend the right solutions," he said. Part of making that conversation simpler is making customers better informed. To that end, HP's SMB Security Expertise Center went live on Tuesday, with information about products and services; it includes two free online courses.

For example, as part of the initiative, HP developed a chart showing seven layers of security, from the physical hardware through data, application and the operating system, then up to the network, security management and third-party to help customers visualize where the risks are and where HP's offerings fit in.