Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust has tracked down and recovered five stolen laptops after installing Computrace on the trust’s equipment.

The trust, which employs 3,500 staff and provides mental health and substance misuse services across Lancashire, implemented Computrace from Absolute Software across its whole IT estate of laptops, desktops and specialist healthcare tablets three years ago. Since then it has recovered five laptops stolen in five different incidents.

As part of the Computrace service, the company provides a dedicated theft recovery team who physically retrieve the lost or stolen computers when they are allocated.

Since the trust signed the contract for IT asset management, data protection and services of the absolute theft recovery team in 2006, several devices holding sensitive data have been retrieved.

In the past year alone, the team has been able to recover laptops that have been stolen from a hotel room, in which instance the thief was taken to court, and have also retrieved a laptop stolen from the boot of a car that had then been sold on the street in Manchester.

The software and the services allow the trust to report a loss and then use the Computrace team to locate the device and work with local police to track and recover it. Even if the device is not retrieved the team can delete the data remotely.

Alan Boardman, IM&T security systems engineer at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Hardware assets had a habit of dropping off the IT team’s radar, which was a problem not only because of the cost of the hardware itself, but also because of the risk factor – no one wants potentially valuable or confidential data held on laptops getting into the wrong hands.”

“There was also the problem of laptops which were lost or stolen – sometimes thefts weren’t reported by a user until some time after the event, by which time any trail for police would have gone cold.”

Boardman said: “With Computrace we have a much clearer idea of who is using what, and where. Previously, it was not unusual for laptops to turn up in desk drawers or in equipment rooms after employees left the organisation, but now we know exactly where everything is.

He added: “As long as people use laptops, hardware will be at risk – unfortunately thefts will happen and you can’t legislate against human error. At least we’re now able to monitor what is being used, and can keep track of our assets even if they’ve been stolen.”

William Pound, vice president of global development at Absolute Software, told E-Health Insider that the company has an “increasing list of NHS clients,” currently ten trusts with several others pending.

Pound said: “The recent spate of high profile data losses and laptop thefts has highlighted the need for all organisations to review their security procedures.

“However, no single security measure will provide adequate protection for sensitive company information and expensive hardware.

It is therefore vital that companies in both the public and private sector provide a robust, multi-layer security solution that addresses regulatory compliance, computer theft recovery and data deletion capabilities.”


Absolute Software