Computers stolen in brazen burglary at Hawks head office

Pretoria – Computers have been stolen in a brazen break-in at the Hawks’ head office in Silverton, Pretoria.

Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi told News24 they became aware of the stolen items in the early hours of Wednesday morning, but that the burglary could have taken place on Tuesday night.

The intruders focused mostly on the HR, finance and supply chain departments, which contained confidential information.

“We are still trying to ascertain if any documents are missing. That will only be confirmed once the forensic, fingerprints team are done with their work,” he said.

No dockets were stolen.

Mulaudzi told News24 there were no visible signs of a break-in.

“The only way through to access the environment is to use access cards. We will be looking at the security to see if it is up to scratch or not, and if not, surely we must take action.”

A dedicated team would be investigating further.

In March, 15 computers were stolen from the Office of the Chief Justice in Midrand.

At the time, then acting national police commissioner Kgomotso Phahlane said the computers were taken from the HR department and contained sensitive information about the country’s judges.

Nkosinathi Msimango, the alleged mastermind behind the robbery, and Bigboy Yose, were appearing in the Mamelodi Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

Deon Du PlessisComputers stolen in brazen burglary at Hawks head office
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How to stop IT equipment theft

How to secure your IT hardware and prevent data theft

With regular headlines about the latest cybercrime attack, the physical security of IT equipment is often overlooked. Your business must of course take precautions to protect the data it contains, but what about the theft of IT equipment in your office, and the devices used by mobile workers?

IT equipment theft is a major issue for business owners. Research by IDC in 2014 revealed that 83% of those businesses interviewed has suffered a laptop theft, with only 3% ever recovering their equipment.

The IDC report concluded: “Organisations today are turning to multiple levels of security to defend themselves against the potential issues a stolen laptop presents. It is important that organisations maintain policy in line with changes in working practice as well as evolution in technology. A proactive approach to monitoring working practices, technology and subsequent risk is required to ensure adequate protection.”

The security of your IT equipment begins with the environment within which the devices will be used. Small businesses today will use an array of IT equipment and may even have small server rooms. The theft of actual servers has been on the increase as in some cases, it is easier to steal the server itself and retrieve the data that is wanted later.

Research revealed that 84% of those businesses interviewed has suffered a laptop theft, with only 3% ever recovering their equipment – IDC

Perform a security audit of your office space. Security doors should be fitted to prevent unauthorised access. Server rooms should have their own security access regime. The equipment your business has in its offices should be assessed next. Notebook PCs, desktops, tablets and other mobile devices need to be audited so a detailed security plan can be developed and implemented.

Physical security

The protection of your business’ IT equipment means being diligent with how this equipment is used, and taking all practical measures possible. The insurance service provider More Than offers this advice to prevent the theft of IT equipment:

  • Have an inventory system, which requires individuals to sign for a specific laptop, whether for use inside or outside the office.
  • Make sure that equipment is not swapped or lent to other staff without proper authority.
  • Ensure that arrangements are made to retrieve a laptop when an individual leaves the firm.
  • Ensure that all staff is fully aware that theft, whether internal or external, will be reported to the police.
  • Consider whether loss by gross negligence should result in disciplinary action, perhaps the imposition of a fine.
  • Clearly label or postcode-mark equipment.
  • Lock equipment in secure cupboards when not in use or tethered to a secure object.
  • Secure meeting rooms when equipment is left unattended.
  • Use access control systems to limit access from public areas such as receptions, factories or warehouses to the main office facilities, and encourage staff to challenge unfamiliar visitors
  • Reduce the likelihood of street robberies by disguising carrying cases used to transport laptop computers.
  • When travelling by car, lock equipment, which is not being used in the boot.
Deon Du PlessisHow to stop IT equipment theft
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