07 Oct Take These 5 Steps to Make Chromebooks Theft-Proof
Take a multistep approach to securing student Chromebooks by using safety tactics and labels that deter thieves.
Electronic devices have always been tempting bait for thieves, who opportunistically grab an unattended laptop or smartphone during the few moments when the owner looks away. With students around the country carrying school-issued laptops around town, its unsurprising that several districts have reported instances of stolen Chromebooks. While some thieves have been bold enough to burglarize schools in search of a Chromebook stash, others prey on lone users who leave a locker open, take their eyes off their backpacks or step away for a restroom run.
School Chromebooks are often funded through government grants or local taxation, making high theft rates a drain on community resources. Instead of simply hoping to track down a stolen computer or stop a theft in progress, make your Chromebooks unappealing to thieves with these smart theft-prevention tips.
Get Chromebooks Engraved
Most thieves want to make a quick sale and get rid of stolen goods as soon as possible, so make it difficult for them to find buyers by labeling all devices in prominent areas. Engraving the Chromebook’s lid is the best option, as this creates permanent identification on the surface that cannot be removed. Include the school or district name with an ID number and phone number, allowing anyone who finds a stolen device to immediately contact you. Of course, a determined thief could replace the display to eliminate the incriminating evidence; but unless he has spare displays lying around, the replacement would cut into the profit of selling the device.
Apply Asset Tags
Go a step beyond engraving, and apply one or two asset tags on other parts of the device to act as deterrents. Many districts choose metal asset tags and label them with barcodes, serial numbers or contact information. Make sure the tags contain a permanent adhesive, so they will firmly bond to the lid or underside of the Chromebook. The more labels need to be removed, the more thieves run the risk of damaging the computer in the process, tanking the device’s resale value.
Partner With Local Businesses
Local business owners have a stake in the success of Chromebook one-to-one programs, as many of their children or relatives attend district schools and reap the benefits of working with up-to-date technology. If their tax dollars helped pay for the devices, they have an additional reason to support the district’s theft-recovery efforts. Notify business owners about the Chromebook program, and let them know the district appreciates their cooperation in returning stolen devices or reporting theft. Administrators should specifically reach out to pawnbrokers and ask them not to accept stolen Chromebooks. If a theft or attempted sale occurs in a local business, the owner may also be able to provide police with footage identifying the suspect.
Use Tracking Software
You can’t monitor everything students do when they take computers off school property, but Chromebook tracking software can tell you where the computer has been and who has logged in.
Many programs also record the user’s web activity, in case a thief leaves clues the police can use to narrow their search. Tracking software is often available from Chromebook management companies, such as GoGuardian, making it easy to obtain anti-theft services from your current provider.
Lock Out Intruders
Chromebooks have a handy feature that allows the owner to remotely disable a stolen device, preventing the thief from logging in. The feature is accessible from the Google Apps Admin Console, and you should activate it as soon as a Chromebook goes missing to stop a thief from factory resetting and deprovisioning the device. You can also choose a custom display message to inform anyone who turns on the computer that the device is stolen and should be returned to your district’s contact person.
Smart thieves are always developing new techniques, but they won’t waste time on devices with little resale value. Fortunately, Chromebooks have multiple features to discourage thievery, and the device’s native operating system is inherently designed to hinder cyber attacks. Because Chromebooks rely on cloud-based Google accounts, every user’s data is individually encrypted by Google.
Data is generally safe from intruders as long as you don’t share your password, and the Chromebook’s current status as a niche device makes it an unattractive target for hackers. The Chrome OS also quietly updates and performs security checks at startup to make sure the software hasn’t been tampered with. Overall, Chromebooks are ideal devices for managing district-wide technology programs, and a well-planned anti-theft strategy can help administrators keep technology costs in check.
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