Laptops were the most common device to be stolen over the three year period (42 per cent), with 11 per cent of institutions victim to netbook theft since 2009. Fortunately, only four per cent of establishments had MP3 players stolen, with tablet computers being taken from the same percentage (4 per cent). Gaming devices were stolen from one per cent of institutions between 2009 and 2011, possibly due to the fact that hand-held games consoles are not yet commonplace tools in UK classrooms.
Although 83 per cent of those surveyed claim that their organisation has an ICT security policy in place, almost a quarter (19 per cent) of these policies do not include guidelines for physically securing devices to prevent them from being stolen. In addition, almost two thirds (65 per cent) of education establishments questioned have not been given training on how to protect their mobile ICT devices from theft.
The data also reveals that a staggering 56 per cent of education establishments do not encrypt their laptops. This was despite half of respondents stating that they were aware that their school, college or university could be fined up to £500,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) if unencrypted laptops containing sensitive pupil details were lost or stolen.
Laptop theft from education establishments can be costly, inconvenient and, potentially, dangerous. Not only could learning be disrupted if ICT equipment is stolen, but laptop theft can lead to increased insurance premiums if an institution has to claim for its loss. What is more, students’ safety could be seriously compromised if laptops containing the details or photographs of vulnerable children fall into the wrong hands, not to mention the damage likely to be caused to the responsible organisation’s reputation.
Denise Crouch, Director at LapSafe® Products, believes that the findings highlight the need for educators to take greater steps to physically secure their mobile ICT. She said: “Our research suggests that theft of laptops and other mobile ICT devices from UK schools, colleges and universities is on the rise. Although the exact reasons for this increase are unclear, it is likely that the economic downturn and the fact that education establishments are often hotbeds of technology is somewhat responsible.
“It is vital that educators have sufficient plans in place to reduce the risk of mobile ICT theft. This should include measures for physically securing laptops, netbooks and tablets, and should be supported by regular IT security training to help avoid the negative consequences of having devices stolen.”
To enable schools, colleges and universities to protect their mobile ICT, LapSafe® Products has created a downloadable poster and guide with simple tips to help keep valuable technology safe. The resources are available free of charge from www.lapsafe.com/resources