Device Security | News

School a Hotspot for Mobile Device Thievery

For the second year in a row public schools top the list of the most popular locations for thefts of mobile devices to occur in the United States. Private schools were No. 8, up from position 12 last year. And once again, the United States tops countries and Chicago tops cities where thefts occur. Houston comes in No. 2, followed by Detroit; however, thefts are down in those latter cities compared to 2011 numbers.

The results of this survey come from the 12,705 theft reports conducted by Absolute Software during 2012. Absolute sells products and services that help to manage and secure mobile devices, including LoJack, a service that helps to locate, lock, and wipe data from missing or stolen devices when they connect to the Internet.

"The mobility of the end user is a definite trend we've observed, with many recoveries occurring in a different country--and even a different continent--from where the device was originally stolen," said Ward Clapham, vice president of investigation and recovery services for the company. This geographical expansion allowed us to hit a team milestone in mid-2013, with the inclusion of Kosovo for a total of 103 countries where we've effected the successful recovery of a stolen device."

The company cited the case of a teacher in New Jersey who had left his laptop unattended in his classroom in September 2012 while he went to a faculty meeting. The laptop was gone by the time he returned. Using geotracking information provided by Absolute, a local detective was able to recover that laptop as well as three others stolen from the same school.

"Data protection continues to be a priority for our customers," said CEO John Livingston. "As the cost of the endpoint continues to decrease, enterprise IT departments care less about recovering the hardware and instead are focused on protecting the corporate data these devices contain.... The information stored on endpoint devices is extremely confidential and valuable. And if a security incident occurs, the penalties for breaching privacy laws, as well as the impact to reputation, can be catastrophic."

Livingston noted that during 2012 customers performed 6,440 data delete commands. That's up by a third over the previous year, he added.

A copy of the report is available at

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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