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Globalization: Helping Criminals Everywhere

September 5, 2013

My first car was an old Toyota Corolla (baby blue, if you’re wondering), and I always used to think it funny that the whole time I owned it, it was the most stolen car in the US.  Mine was a piece of crud, and I wished it’d gotten stolen a couple times.  But alas, you get what you need, not what you want (which is another post).

But these days, new things are on the list to get stolen, and it’s changing the face of crime.  Anyone for going global?

Absolute Software’s second annual Endpoint Security Report records that stolen kit that had not been nicked locally had been recovered in an additional eight countries as far afield as Mongolia, Gambia, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. In the EMEA region (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), London is the top theft location, followed by Kampala in Uganda and Pretoria in South Africa.

Across the EMEA region, businesses have become the top device theft hotspot, for both internal and external burglary. This is a change from figures covering 2011, where homes and cars were the top theft location for corporate devices.

Globally, the US came in as the top country for thefts of the kit, with Australia at number two and the UK at number three.

The US gets most devices stolen in schools, by the way.

This makes a ton of sense in a few ways.  If one is into reselling hot property, especially property that can be traced via unique identification, it’s fairly simple to assume that selling them locally would only get things traced back to the thief at some point.  So… finding a network that would buy in bulk and then put the devices “safely” out of recovery’s hands isn’t an absurd idea.  Besides, most of these things are so expensive new that it’s difficult to move them in developing countries.

In some ways, the tech companies could be complicit in this type of activity.  I’m not saying that any of them condone the activity, but they also are measured by advertisers and developers on the installed market.  If keeping stolen devices in the network yields a 3-5% increase in total devices… well, that’s a market winner that builds applications.  It especially helps in the developing markets, where an early win can mean loyalty for life in a new user base.

There’s been technology available for a while that can make any device a lightweight brick when it’s reported stolen.  I’ll be interested to see how long it takes for companies to react to the new trend and utilize that capability more with stolen devices.  Somehow, I think it will be a looong time.

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