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Locking down the fort in the nbn™ age

Sholto Macpherson
Smarter Writer

Sholto Macpherson builds business models and tech stacks for cloud accounting practices on DigitalFirst.com

Sholto Macpherson
Smarter Writer

Sholto Macpherson builds business models and tech stacks for cloud accounting practices on DigitalFirst.com

Highlights
  •  With the recent public focus on data security and protection, it is important to remember to protect your hardware.
  • Anti-theft tracking software may help you to relocate your stolen equipment.
  • Alarm monitoring and security video storage solutions can utilise your nbn™ connection to protect your physical assets.

With the constant news of hackers and cyber attacks on businesses, there’s an increasing focus on cyber security to protect valuable data, IP and assets from villains halfway around the world. Yet you shouldn’t overlook the threat to your valuable data and other business assets from old-school physical theft.

Cyber attacks of one sort or another are constantly in the headlines. Whether it’s governments trying to swing elections in other countries or ransomware locking up servers, hackers have emerged as a primary threat. Customer data, internal documents and intellectual property are among the most valuable assets in a business, but they are far from the only things worth protecting. IT equipment is an essential tool of trade in nearly every industry. If thieves cleaned out your office tomorrow, it could cost tens of thousands of dollars to replace all the hardware.

Image shows a close up of silhouetted hand using a laptop in dramatic lighting.
Protecting your physical devices is just as important as protecting your data.

Over the past five years, about 200 thefts from offices were reported to police annually in the Sydney CBD alone, according to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. (The number has decreased slightly in the past two years.) Opportunistic theft is easier than ever, thanks to the boom in miniaturisation. The mobility designed into smartphones, laptops, tablets and all-in-one PCs makes them ideal targets for the casual larcener. 

Anti-theft tracking software, such as LoJack, can help you recover some items. A user downloads the tracking software onto their laptop and can then activate the software remotely. It will estimate the device’s location and send a message to the new user that the laptop has been stolen and asking for its return. Often the tracking software can take photos and record audio and video of the thief. 

The great thing about tracking software is that it protects your laptop whether you’re using it in the office, in a cafe, or driving around in your car.  However, tracking software doesn’t guarantee recovery. Sometimes the police can’t locate the laptop or the thief can wipe and reset it. It is worth taking preventative measures by investing in physical security. 

The most basic step is to add security cables to your laptops and desktops to stop a passer-by walking off with them. The Kensington lock is probably the best known. It has a T-shaped head that plugs into a socket on laptops, monitors and PC cases. A determined burglar with wire cutters or a bolt cutter will make short work of it though.

The next layer of defence is to defend the perimeter using cameras and alarms. An alarm system can monitor entranceways to your office and alert you or a security patrol company if anyone attempts to gain access. A word of caution – if you already have an alarm system that communicates with a security company over the phone line, you may need to upgrade or change to a different system before migrating to the nbn™ for it to continue working. Planning this in advance can prevent lengthy delays and complications when organising your new nbn™ service.

Some alarm systems are already compatible, such as Telstra Business Protect. This monitored back-to-base alarm system is designed specifically to send encrypted data over your nbn™ internet connection. Plus, you won’t need to keep paying a monthly bill for the separate phone line. 

Another option is to install security cameras. These are much more intelligent than the old CCTV recording to video tapes. Some cameras will only record if a person has moved in front of a sensor, which reduces unnecessary video storage. Others will stream a high-definition image directly to your smartphone or tablet. 

If you have the nbn™ or a high-bandwidth internet connection, you could consider storing your video online which removes the need to have a local digital video recorder. In fact, online backups and file storage are an excellent strategy for all your files. If your PC or server goes AWOL, you can change your password to the online storage and add it to your new computer. All your files will be inaccessible on the stolen computers and immediately available on your new kit. This is an excellent disaster recovery strategy that is much easier than messing about with backup tapes. And, for when all else fails, it’s still a good idea to have comprehensive burglary and theft insurance.

Want to learn how Business Protect can help with your security?
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