More than 60% of all South African companies experienced theft of information technology (IT) equipment valued at about R180 000 per incident last year.
This startling figure was revealed in a recent global information survey by business advisors KPMG and confirmed by Howard Griffiths, managing director of corporate private investigations company Griffiths and Associates.
Based on interviews with 640 major corporates worldwide - 40 of them in South Africa - the KPMG survey found that companies in South Africa were almost twice as likely to be hit by IT thieves as their counterparts internationally. Griffiths said of every 10 notebooks purchased by corporates and individuals, at least one would be stolen within the first year.
Griffiths explained that thanks to a brand-new system brought in from the United Kingdom, computers can dial in from wherever thieves were trying to log onto the Internet and advise central computers in Johannesburg and London of their exact whereabouts.
"Previously the only way to try and avoid theft was for companies to physically restrain computers to desks or to install devices that would activate an alarm if somebody attempted to remove them from company premises," Griffiths said.
"All of these systems could be easily disabled and once the notebook or PC had left the office, there was absolutely no way of getting it back," he said.
The WebDetect system runs in the background of protected computers and was impossible to detect, he said. "A central computer in the United Kingdom keeps a record of all machines worldwide protected by WebDetect and queries them several times a day to ensure that they are where they are supposed to be. This is achieved by checking the telephone number from where it dials into the Internet," Griffiths said.
Once a computer had been stolen, whether it be a laptop or a PC, WebDetect could trace the telephone number from where the thief was operating.
"We can quickly match an address to the telephone number and retrieve the laptop - usually within a very short space of time," Griffiths said.
For more information: Howard Griffiths, Griffiths and Associates, 011 786 8556, firstname.lastname@example.org
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