An increase in thefts of laptop computers from K-State offices, labs, and classrooms over the past few months point to a need for K-State faculty, staff, and students to be more diligent about protecting their laptops and the data stored on them. Virtually every theft was opportunistic, made easy by people leaving unsecured laptops in plain sight in an office, lab, or residence hall room with the door left open.
One campus theft recorded by a video surveillance camera showed that it only took six seconds for the thief to unplug the computer and make off with the power adapter and laptop. SIX SECONDS! Fortunately in this case, the criminal was identified from the video and the laptop was recovered, but not before it was reformatted and the student’s term paper lost. We were lucky in this case, since most stolen laptops are not recovered.
We make it too easy
The vast majority of these thefts are “thefts of opportunity” that are easily prevented.
- In a case this past week, a laptop was stolen from an office when a faculty member left for just a few minutes and left the door open.
- Two others (belonging to visitors to campus) were stolen recently from an unlocked classroom being used for a continuing education workshop.
- Three others were stolen from a common student office area that was unlocked.
Continue reading “Increased laptop thefts on campus are wake-up call”
A subcommittee of SIRT has been evaluating whole disk encryption software for laptop computers and is close to making a product recommendation. One of the candidate products is McAfee Safeboot, and SIRT has arranged a WebEx demonstration of the product so others can learn about it and provide feedback.
The WebEx demo will take place 9:30-10:45 a.m. this Friday, Sept. 5, in Union 213. During the first 15 minutes, Harvard Townsend, K-State’s IT Security Officer, will provide an overview of the project — the motivation, requirements, evaluation process, and cost estimates. McAfee representatives will then join in at 9:45 a.m. via WebEx and phone for the demo. Some subcommittee members will be available after the demo to receive feedback and answer questions.
Hardly a day goes by without hearing news of the theft of a laptop containing confidential data. Should a laptop get stolen, encrypting the data protects it from being misused for things like identity theft or financial fraud.
SIRT intends to recommend an affordable standard encryption product that departments or individual faculty/staff can buy for their laptops to provide another layer of protection and keep K-State’s sensitive information from getting into the wrong hands.
With the return of tens of thousands of students and arrival of thousands of new students, faculty, and staff, everyone needs to be reminded of the importance of protecting K-State’s information and technology resources. Here are five things about IT security that individuals need to be aware of as the semester begins:
- Never give your password to anyone in an e-mail message. Numerous different scam e-mails have been sent to K-Staters over the last eight months trying to trick people into replying with their eID password. K-State IT support staff will never ask for your password in an e-mail, nor will any legitimate business or organization. If you get such an e-mail, just delete it.
Continue reading “Five things you should know about IT security at K-State”
According to recent studies, about 16,000 laptop computers are lost or stolen in airports in the United States and Europe EVERY WEEK. That translates into nearly 900,000 per year and, according to the studies conducted by the Ponemon Institute on behalf of Dell, about 60 percent of the laptops are never recovered or reclaimed. Continue reading “Airports a major threat to laptops”