We're embracing new technology in the classroom but is this making our schools more attractive to thieves? In a spate of recent burglaries reported by our clients, technology equipment was the prime target, in particular, portable devices such as laptops and tablets.
The theft of a portable device represents more than just a financial loss. Schools also risk unauthorised access to important and sensitive information, the consequences of which can be devastating as well as costly.
They may be crimes of opportunity, but more often than not, schools are targeted based on information gathered from numerous sources by well-organised thieves.
- A school recently took a bulk delivery of new laptops. Packaging was placed in and around a rubbish skip at the front of the school. Thieves saw the boxes, broke in and stole all the laptops. Three weeks later when the replacement computers were delivered, the exact same process was repeated.
- Thieves targeted a school in the middle of major building works. Security cameras were yet to be installed near a classroom where a large number of laptops were stored. The thieves, who possibly learned about the recent purchase of laptops from the school website, broke into the classroom and stole the devices that were still attached to a security trolley.
Although it is not possible to control a thief's motivation, by reducing the opportunity, or by making your equipment a 'hard target', you can reduce the likelihood of a theft occurring.
Tackle the issues from both sides:
1. Secure your premises
- Ensure only authorised personnel have access to computers, computer labs and servers. This might include the school principal, ICT teachers, maintenance workers or cleaners.
- Store laptops in the buildings with the highest security and where possible, do not store laptops on the ground floor, in a thoroughfare or reception area.
- Ensure alarm systems and security cameras are fully operational.
- Regularly inspect and maintain perimeter fences. Cut back foliage and trees which may provide cover for thieves.
- Review the adequacy of lighting and check the condition and strength of doors and windows.
2. Secure your equipment
- Laptops used during school hours should be equipped with a laptop tie down security bracket or security cable lock.
- Outside of school hours, equipment should be attached to a hardened steel anchor and fastened to a secure building wall away from public view.
- Create a portable device register so you can track and monitor laptops, tablets and other devices. If a registered item is brought into a repairer it can be immediately identified as stolen.
- Use warning stickers notifying offenders that hardware installed on the machine will render it unusable. Ensure stickers leave chemical imprints if removed.
- Engrave laptops with your school's ABN or name. This can significantly reduce the street value of stolen laptops.
- Establish rules for users with regard to composing strong, secure passwords. This may include the number of characters and the types of characters to be used i.e. upper and lower case letters, numerals and symbols.
- Take deliveries of equipment during school hours. Never during school holidays.
- An IT Security Policy is a must-have. Keep it simple and include step-by-step guidelines on expected responsibilities and accountabilities.
CCI has a number of useful Resources on this and many other topics available on this website or by calling the risksupport Helpdesk on 1300 660 827.
Securing Laptops Fact Sheet
Developing an IT Security Policy Fact Sheet
Protecting Property Fact Sheet