IT Theft Prevention for Schools

IT Theft Prevention for Schools

Computer security is an ongoing problem and, whilst recorded theft offences are on the general decline in the UK, the aftermath of a break-in, and the consequences of losing essential IT equipment, can be devastating. Not only for the disruption to teaching routines, but also the loss of confidential data, and vital school coursework. Modern schools have a wide range of IT products to secure, from desktop computers, through to mobile devices. All of which are easy prey if they're not secured or suitably locked down.

Mobile Devices

The most problematic products to secure are mobile devices. Whilst a desktop computer is rarely, if ever moved, securing them is a very straightforward task; but a device such as an iPad is mobile and easily concealed, so the challenges faced are very different.

It is easy, through a mobile-device-management solution (MDM), to ‘GeoFence’ an iPad; creating a ‘safe area’ for the device to work within. When the device leaves a known WiFi network or specified location, it can become locked and completely unusable. Devices which violate these rules can then be made to trigger alerts to the administrator and action can then be taken.

Physically securing devices when they’re not in use is more complex. Most iPads ‘after hours’ are returned to a central charging station or trolley to prepare then for the next working day, and this is where they are most vulnerable. Placing the devices in a locked and secure room is good, and having them stored within a trolley, which itself is secured, is an even better practice.

Our recent blog on iOS charging devices highlights some of the pro’s and con’s of the different types available, including how secure – or not – they are. Theft prevention is worth investing in, as, in some cases, a fully populated charging trolley can contain up to 40 12.9” iPads, which would have a retail value of over £20,000. That's a devastating loss to attempt to recover from financially, leaving aside the difficulties of lost work and time.

For devices being used as information kiosks, in public-use areas the risk of theft or tampering is considerably greater. For this environment, there is a choice of having the device mounted securely to a wall, a table top, or even as a free-standing unit for convenience; but all prevent users from accessing the ports and home button, so any apps you are running will be as secure from unauthorized user access, as it would be from theft.

Desktops

Macs which live their entire lives on a desktop or workbench are a much easier product to secure and there is a wider range of security products and options to choose from. An iMac can be secured to a bench or tabletop via the use of a device such as the SecureStand, avaialble for both the 21.5" iMac and the larger 27" iMac models 

This device secures to the iMac stand and, not only prevents outright theft, but usefully prevents the iMac from any accidental tilts or falls. The stand comes fitted with an anti-tamper and an anti-drill lock, so any attempts to remove the iMac with a brute force approach would likely find themselves destroying the machine or the desk, or possibly both.

One would hope that with the time it would take, the effort that would be expended, and the noise that would be created, this level of deterrent would put off the majority of thieves.

Desktop systems such as the Mac mini – a popular choice as a server by education institutions – have a different range of securing options, largely due to its much smaller size. The Mac mini can be mounted using the MiniLock, which can be located on-top of a desk, under a desk, or even be piggybacked onto the back of a VESA-mounted monitor for the most discreet installation, though table mounting is clearly the better, more-secure choice.

This solution allows full cable access, full ventilation and will also prevent memory theft. MiniLock has a built-in security slot and comes with its own high security lock and security shroud.

Laptops

Before the uptake of tablet devices in schools, laptops were some of the most popular devices in education and were also vulnerable to theft by their portable nature.

Devices such as the SecurPad is a universal option, which uses a bonded adhesive mounted anchor which can attach to the casing of your laptop which can then be secured by a locking tethering cable to an immovable item. Should you wish to relocate, simply unlock the cable and go. For some specific models of the newer MacBook Pro Retina , another non-permanent security solution is available, called the Ledge Case, it allows the use of the traditional T-Bar cable locks, which were standard fare when securing older MacBooks.

To conclude, there are a wide variety of physical security products available, for a range of working scenarios - both fixed and mobile - so we can ensure that you find something suitable and practical to keep safe and secure, whatever equipment you have on (or even occassionally, off) site.

If you would like to look at, or discuss, any of the options above, or perhaps you have a unique scenario we haven't touched on here, please get in contact with our Education Team.


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