Half of education institutions victims of mobile IT theft

According to research, 45% of UK education establishments claim to have had mobile IT equipment stolen during the last three years.

Almost half of UK education establishments have experienced mobile IT theft during the last three years, according to a survey from security vendor LapSafe Products.

Some 45% of respondents admitted to having mobile IT devices, such as laptops, netbooks, and tablets, stolen between 2009 and 2011. Of these 27% admitted to having mobile IT equipment stolen in 2011.

Through the three-year period, laptops were the most likely to be stolen (42%), with 11% claiming to have experienced netbook theft since 2009. Only 4% of tablet computers and MP3 players were taken, and 1% of gaming devices.  

Despite 83% claiming their organisation has an IT security policy, 19% admitted these policies fail to include guidelines for physically securing devices.

The survey also revealed that 56% of education establishments do not encrypt their laptops, despite half of the respondents being aware of the fact they could be fined up to £500,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) if unencrypted laptops containing pupils’ data were lost or stolen.

Denise Crouch, director at LapSafe Products, said the research reflects the fact that theft of mobile IT equipment within 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,” she said.

Crouch advised educators to have sufficient plans in place to reduce the risk of mobile IT 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,” she said.

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