Novel approach to computer security

November 2004 Information Security

As nationwide concern over the alarming number of computer thefts increases, PC Professionals has launched IT Surveillance System (itss) - a first in IT surveillance and computer security that will revolutionise the way we protect and safeguard computers and intellectual property.

"According to the 'Insurance Industry Engineering Book of Business', R205 million was paid out towards computer theft in 2003," managing director of PC Professionals, Jason Roper explains. "The itss anti-theft mechanism provides a cost-effective security system suitable for small to large companies. The system enables companies to detect internal and external corruption, theft, fraud and sabotage, which will prevent massive financial losses in the business environment."

The itss consists of a 'screamer' unit which slots inside each PC that links with the master control unit (MCU), placed within the company's mainframe. Working transparently within the company's existing network infrastructure and using available network cables, this plug-and-play concept is quick to install.

The system proactively protects computer equipment by sending an SMS to designated people as soon as the computer is disconnected, opened or tampered with. Any tampering, dismantling or disconnection of the computer will cause the screamer unit to emit a 97-decibel siren to deter any would-be thieves.

The MCU remains active 24 hours a day, regardless of power failures. Running independently of any hardware and software, it is undetectable to unauthorised people. Internal corruption is prevented by a logging system, which records any changes or input to the system. Any changes to the system are logged on the MCU and can only be downloaded by approved personnel.

Although local statistics are not available, a 2003 international survey by New York-based BSI reports the value of proprietary data on respondents' stolen computers to average around an astounding US$ 690,759 per stolen computer. 72% of respondents reported downtime due to computer theft, ranging from several days to more than one month. Almost 44% of the survey participants have been victim to computer theft in the last 12 months.

Corresponding with international trends, The SA Insurance Association (SAIA) believes that it takes a mere two minutes from breaking and entering the premises, for a thief to disappear with the company's intellectual property.

More alarming though, is the recurrence of computer theft within a 30-day period - or within the time it takes for the insurance company to replace the stolen computers.

"With more than 60% of all South African companies having fallen victim to computer theft over the past year, according to industry resources, it is apparent that this specialised and pre-meditated form of crime has taken epic proportions," Roper continues. "itss has the power to significantly lower the financial losses incurred in computer theft."

For more information contact PC Professionals, 011 865 4628,,

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