"Dude, where's my projector?"
A Road Map to Securing your Projector
By: Dan Zimmer CTS, Hard Steal Security Corp.
Twenty years ago projectors had three "guns", weighed 80 - 120 lbs, were the size of a coffee table, and took a crew of technicians a couple of days to install and converge. They were dim, expensive, finicky machines, but one advantage they had over today's bright, ultraportable, inexpensive projectors was that you could come into the classroom or lecture theater and pretty much count on still finding them on the ceiling where they were yesterday. Theft wasn't an issue.
Today's projectors are a different story. They disappear out of institutional environments every single day - and not just schools. Houses of worship, hospitals, performance venues - all are victims of theft. Googling "projector stolen" will yield reports from local newspapers and law enforcement offices of daily losses from across the country. Hard statistics remain frustratingly elusive, but it's clear that facilities from K-12 through post secondary are challenged with hanging onto their A/V assets. That projectors have become such a common target shouldn't surprise anyone: game console jockeys will tell you that "Call of Duty" or "Grand Theft Auto" are way more fun to play at 120" diagonal than they are at 32". Portable, easily disposed of on the street or through Craigslist - stolen projectors end up attached to game consoles or in home theaters or even back in other institutional environments.
So what to do about this?
IDENTIFY THE ASSETS
Many facilities will have a formal "Security Master Plan", and people or departments responsible for that plan. Part of their responsibility will be to maintain a list of both assets and threats. Your first step is to make sure that projectors are counted as an asset: you'd think that would be a given, but it's not. A record of your assets can be as simple as a spreadsheet or as sophisticated as a web-based asset management system, and should at minimum contain make, model, serial number and date of acquisition for each projector.
UNDERSTAND THE THREATS
The next step, in the words of Sun Tszu, is to "know your enemy" - to understand what the threats are and where they're coming from. This may require consulting with other stakeholders, such as facilities managers, security departments, and peers. What are other areas within a facility experiencing? What about peers at other facilities? Is there historical data to draw from? Can trends be identified?
HAVE A PLAN
Finally, the goal is to have comprehensive strategies in place to manage these threats. Both type and degree of threat must be addressed. Countermeasures should be reviewed regularly. Is what we're doing still appropriate and adequate?
Perimeter Security vs Asset-Specific Security
Students of the second World War will remember that the Maginot Line was an infamous line of perimeter defenses which France built along its borders with Germany & Italy. The French had such complete faith in the invulnerability of the Maginot Line that they had no "plan B", and as history records, all the Germans had to do was breach the line at one point to be able to overrun the country. According to Wikipedia, the Maginot Line is generally considered one of the great failures of military history, and the term "Maginot Line" is now often used as a metaphor for something that is confidently relied upon, but in the end proves ineffective.
At the K-12 level, perimeter security would typically consist of locked doors and shuttered windows, and at higher levels might also include alarm systems, security cameras, card access, security guards and more. While perimeter security is important, it risks becoming a "Maginot Line" if relied upon exclusively. If your perimeter has been breached, what other countermeasures do you have? Projectors and other A/V equipment need to have their own protection.
A professional threat management/risk abatement strategy employs layers of security - an approach often referred to as the "onion" methodology. Up to a point of diminishing returns, the more layers, the better. It's important to keep in mind that, like Shangri-la, a theft-proof environment is an impossible ideal. Security professionals are fond of saying that "locks keep honest people honest". You cannot make your equipment or your environment theft-proof. However, diminishing returns apply to a thief as well. By combining your countermeasures in well designed layers, you CAN succeed in making your assets unattractive, and not worth the trouble or risk.
Assuming you have your perimeter security house in order, what are some of the layers you can can add at the projector level to reduce the incidence of theft? In order of effectiveness:
Here are a few final things to keep in mind:
Hard Steal Security Corp. is the premier manufacturer of theft deterrent solutions for the A/V projection market. Their patented AV Cage has been helping clients protect their valuable display devices since 2001.
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