Laptop Theft in a University Setting can be Avoided with Warnings

Azqua Nadeem*, Marianne Junger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Working paper

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Laptops have become an indispensable asset in today's digital age. They often contain highly sensitive information, such as credentials and confidential documents. As a result, the value of a laptop is an accumulation of the value of both the physical device itself and the cyber assets it contains, making it a lucrative target for theft. Educational institutions have a large population of potential victims of laptop theft. To mitigate this risk, we investigate whether a simple warning sign can reduce the opportunity for potential offenders. To this end, we have conducted an empirical study to observe the prevalence of students/staff leaving their laptops unattended at a university study hall at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, both with and without a warning sign. We observed 148 out of 220 subjects leaving their laptops unattended in just three weeks. The results also showed that without the warning banner, 75.5% (83 out of 110) of subjects left their laptops unattended and with the warning, only 59.1% (65 out of 110) of subjects showed the same behavior, which is a significant reduction of 16.4%. In addition, a qualitative analysis was performed on the responses of subjects who left their laptops unattended after the warning banner was placed. The results showed a mix of convenience, and a blind trust on the safety of the faculty. In conclusion, a simple banner was effective in reducing the opportunity for laptop theft. However, the percentage of laptops left unattended was still high even after the introduction of the banner.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2019


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