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.

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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.
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Computer thieves target car dealerships in Strijdom Park

Thieves smashed the glass window with a brick in the second robbery at the Hyundai dealership in Strijdom Park. Photo supplied.

A new crime trend is emerging where car dealerships are targeted in the north of Johannesburg by having their PC desktops stolen.

The Hyundai dealership in Strijdom Park was broken into twice in one month in the evenings. The first robbery was on 10 February where they stole eight PC desktops and a cellphone, followed by a second robbery two weeks later on 27 February where they stole six PC desktops.

“People are speculating that the PCs are stolen to be smuggled across the border,” said the Hyundai Strijdom Park new cars manager, Sean Longley. He said that the hard drives in the desktops are worth about R500 on the black market, or that suspects could use the information of the customers to commit fraud.

Other dealerships in Strijdom Park, Bryanston and Weltervreden Park have also reported that their PC desktops were stolen as well.

Randburg Police Station spokesperson Constable Stanley Bopape, confirmed that a case was opened by the Hyundai dealership in Strijdom Park, “The fingerprints collected on the scene were positive and the case is still being investigated.” Const Bopape also said that the police are not sure if competition from other dealerships could be the cause. The police are also still uncertain why car dealerships are being targeted.

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Computer Theft a Major Concern for Businesses

Studies suggest that over 68% of all South African companies have had computers stolen at some point. Unfortunately, companies that are identified as soft targets by syndicates often fall prey to repeated attacks because the criminals know that new computer equipment is issued within a few days.

Even school computer labs have become targets for criminals, with thousands of computers stolen from hundreds of Gauteng and Western Cape schools in the last five years.

Although computer criminals prefer to operate at night when the chances of confrontation with office employees and security staff are reduced, computer theft and robbery during the day, when security measures are less stringent, is escalating. In these instances, employees and security guards are often threatened with violence or attacked by criminals.

According to Auto and General Business Insurance’s general manager, Anthony Jackson, “Computer theft and robbery is a major problem in South Africa. Criminals target computers and laptops because they are easily accessible and easy to dispose of, on the illegal market.

“Unfortunately, the higher incidence of daytime theft and robbery has led to an increase in violence associated with computer crime. So, it’s no longer only about protecting equipment from criminals, it’s also about safeguarding employees.

“Companies need to be vigilant and aware of the possibility of attacks by computer thieves at all times, even during the day. They must also do everything possible to avoid being identified as soft targets by criminals who traditionally seek a quick in and out.

“This requires implementing a combination of security measures such as, amongst others, good quality perimeter fencing, lighting, external passives, infrareds and beams, CCTV systems, intruder detection systems, solid locks, glass protection (against smash and grab) and well-trained guards.”

He adds that organisations also need to have stringent information security measures and backup procedures in place to protect critical business data – the loss of which can cost companies money, affect business continuity, damage the companies reputation and impact client confidence.

“It is also important for companies to ensure that they have adequate business insurance cover in place to protect them financially in the event of a loss,” says Jackson.

Auto and General offers the following tips for preventing computer theft:

� Mark computers and laptops in a permanent way, through the use of microdots, engraving or other means, to entrench and secure their identity. This negatively affects their resale value on the illegal market and is therefore a deterrent for thieves.

� Keep an up-to-date inventory of all computer equipment. The list should include the make and description, serial number and the purchase date, place and price of each item. This can help prevent internal theft and will help the police and insurance companies should a burglary occur.

� Station computers and high-value equipment away from windows on the ground floor.

� Attach or anchor computers to furniture or something solid with security plates.

� Store laptops in high-security cabinets or in a safe when not in use.

� Fit alarms to computers. Some of these fit inside computers and sound if the equipment is moved. Others, called ‘loop’ alarms have a cable which passes through the equipment and which sounds if it is broken.

� Make sure all employees know not to leave laptops unattended and in full view.

� Employees should be encouraged to take laptops home or lock them up safely at the end of the working day.

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Universal Anti-Theft Devices by Secure-Ur-PC

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Some business owners are still under the impression that enough has been done to protect their business computer systems. With guards, palisade fencing and armed reaction units, being favored amongst most companies, many of said companies have received a rude awakening.

We, at SECURE – UR – PC, are proud to announce our high quality, affordable range of Universal Anti-Theft Devices, suitable for all brands of computer equipment available on the South African, as well as international, markets today.

Our various product designs were inspired by many weeks of research. Exactly what was needed, in the market, to curb the theft of the computers proved to be quite a daunting task. After 2 years of planning, designing trail and error, our first product was released in the market in 2000, with huge success. All our patented products have been designed around the various needs of our clients. Every model has been fashioned in such a way, that the accessibility of the computer is not infringed upon by the authorized user, but makes life as difficult as possible for the would be criminal. Only with extreme difficulty can our products be removed without the proper equipment or correct keys. All our products are available in a Commercial & Industrial form, once again, various clients various needs.

SECURE-UR-PC offers a totally unique service to the industry, which, as mentioned, is our Tailor-Made service. This allows us to tailor a security solution for each company individually, should the need arise. If, in the very unlikely event, the situation unfolds, where a product is not readily available off our shelves, we will design and manufacture one to suite your unique needs.

Our Products include:

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    2. DVD Mount
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