The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday June 1st

ATN Works For Tighter Security

After losing several laptops to theft, ATN is working to balance more security and quality customer service.

Academic Technology & Networks officials are considering upgrading their security measures following larcenies at their headquarters in Wilson Library.

An IBM Thinkpad model 600 laptop computer was reported stolen from the ATN office Tuesday. According to police reports, the laptop had been taken from the office sometime after Oct. 2.

ATN officials said this was the third computer stolen from the office in two months. "We recognized we were missing some machines from inventory," said Bruce Egan, associate director of the Information Technology Response Center.

Egan said ATN officials have handed the situation over to the police and are awaiting advice on preventive measures.

Egan said that while there are no indications that an ATN employee committed the larceny, he hasn't ruled out the possibility.

Egan said preventing similar crimes in the future will be difficult considering ATN's high public accessibility. "Given what we do here, it is unfortunately the cost of doing business," he said.

But Egan said reworking some of ATN's security standards is top priority. "We are responding by tightening our security measures by monitoring where our equipment is," he said.

He said the problem for ATN is finding a medium between providing efficient service and keeping security tight.

It is common to find people roaming throughout ATN's headquarters. ATN officials say this is an element of providing adequate service, and that tightening security could affect this aspect.

Director for Computing Policy Jeanne Smythe, who handles much of ATN's security issues, could not give any details about the new measures but said ATN is hoping to improve security. "We certainly reviewed our procedures," she said.

The ATN larceny is just one of many laptop thefts that have occurred on campus this year. An IBM 600X laptop was reported stolen from a resident of Carmichael Residence Hall on Wednesday, and earlier in the school year, a number of computers were stolen from Abernethy Hall and sold on the street.

But University police Maj. Jeff McCracken said he has not observed any unusual activity in comparison to previous years. "Laptops are traditionally a subject of larceny on campus."

McCracken said it is logical to assume that more thefts have occurred because the Carolina Computing Initiative requires all freshmen to own laptops.

But he said there is not enough data yet to evaluate this theory accurately.

Because laptops are conveniently small but extremely valuable, they are a hot target for larceny, Egan said. He encouraged students to avoid theft-friendly practices, such as leaving laptops unattended in the library.

"Students need to be cognizant of the fact that the things that they have with them on campus are very enticing objects to be acquired," Egan said. "It's just like personal safety - be aware of your surroundings."

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