Screenshot 2015-02-08 at 19.14.27One of the most difficult things to estimate when planning a school 1:1 project — whether it’s iPads, Chromebooks, or other devices — is how to budget for repairs, loss, theft, and insurance.

This was proven to me last week when I posted an article on protecting Chromebooks from theft and it quickly became our most read article ever.

Until now there hasn’t been much information on school device theft to work from. When I was budgeting our 1:1 Chromebook project last year it was just guess work. But school web filtering and analytics company Securly has put together an amazing report outlining the steps you should be taking to protect your devices while still protecting student privacy. It’s something every school IT admin should read.

Are you wasting money on device insurance?

Securly surveyed hundreds of school IT and security professionals to find the answer to three simple questions:

  • How often are devices lost or stolen?
  • Is insurance worth the cost?
  • What are the most viable measures to protect against loss and theft?

When you’re looking to protect a fleet of devices cost is one of the most important factors, so it’s useful to have an idea of the number of thefts and losses you can expect. Securly’s report will help you work that out before you buy:

“School admins reported that 1 in 230 school devices is lost or misplaced by students. In other words, incidents of missing/lost devices are three times as likely to occur as are incidents of theft. For the devices that were lost, respondents reported that they were recovered 68% of the time.”

Balancing hardware security with student privacy

Always connected devices like iPads and Chromebooks allow for a plethora of powerful security features. It seems that every month there’s a news story about how a stolen iPad was recovered by viewing webcam photos uploaded to a cloud service. And while this type of feature is perfect for a home user, it raises considerable privacy concerns when it’s a school targeting student devices.

Securly’s report looks implications of putting in place anti-theft software like remote webcam snaps or screen shots on student devices:

What we discovered is that while location tracking is something that admins believe adequately protects a school’s investment as well as its students, other anti-theft technology is often perceived as intrusive and in violation of student privacy. In particular, the ability to remotely capture a picture of a device’s user was unsettling to most IT admins we interviewed.

The report also highlights the anti-theft features already built into Chrome OS as standard, allowing school admins to track, disable, and remotely wipe devices. If you’d like to find out more about Google Apps’s Chromebook security features, take a look a this article.

The report concludes that location is by far the most important piece of information when recovering devices, and that features like remote camera activation raise more student privacy and eSafety issues than they resolve, and I have to agree.

Having been recently responsible for a roll out of 400 Chromebooks, theft and loss of devices has been minimal to the point wherehas been so low that we no longer insure our hardware. When notified of a lost Chromebook, we immediately disable it and attempt to track its location. It would worry me hugely if I were asked to pull more data than that from a student’s personal device.

You can download the full report for free from SlideShare. If you’re looking to buy new devices for your school it’s definitely worth a read, and could save you thousands in insurance payments.

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About Author

Profile photo of Karl Rivers

Karl is an award winning Director of IT for the Royal Grammar School Guildford, based near London, England. He has been working in education for more than ten years and founded ClassThink in 2013 to share technology best practice with other schools. In 2014 he won the NAACE Impact Award for support services in schools, and writes edtech articles for Education Executive Magazine.

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