Bryan Barcroft and Mark Murray say device engraving offers another way for Happy State Bank to deter thieves.

Jun 02 2015

Why Laser Engraving on Mobile Devices Makes Sense for Security

Laser engraving offers theft protection for devices while raising brand visibility for mobile workers.

In the digital age, identification has become a complicated thing. Lengthy passwords, fingerprint readers and retina scanners are just a few of the high-tech methods businesses try to authenticate identity and protect property. But something as simple as “putting your name on it” — tried and tested in kindergarten classrooms and office refrigerators everywhere — can be just as valuable.

That’s the basic idea behind engraving, a laser-guided method of imprinting identifiable information on hardware or mobile devices. In the event that this property is lost or stolen, and found by an honest party, it can be returned to its owners.

While relatively easy to ­implement, the benefits of laser engraving are numerous in organizations with mobile employees juggling multiple devices.

< .002 inches

The depth of the laser engraving used on the anodized metal of an iPad

SOURCE: CDW Laser Engraving Service

Permanent Protection

Instead of receiving a thick binder of documents before board meetings, directors of Happy State Bank in Amarillo, Texas, now get the ­information they need downloaded to gold-finished Apple iPad devices laser-engraved with the bank’s logo and individual identifiers for the hardware. In addition to being more convenient for the directors, the new system is more efficient and secure for the bank, says Mark Murray, the bank’s assistant vice president for IT.

“We used to send someone to deliver the board books to each director,” he says.

“It was time-consuming and a security risk as well as being much more costly. Now, if one of the devices goes missing, we can disable it, and the engraving makes it easier to trace and identify.”

The addition of the permanent ID number for each tablet will also save the bank’s IT staff considerable time and aggravation when they are troubleshooting a problem or performing regular maintenance on the tablets, says Murray.

“With the old iPads, we had to dive into the machines and go through some settings and menu items to discover which device we were working on, and then connect it with the person using it,” he says.

In the hands of the directors, the logo on the sleek tablet also gives Happy State Bank increased presence in the community, Murray says. “Our logo is very important to us. It’s our brand, and we like to show it anywhere we can. Our directors are highly visible in the community, and when they carry the iPads around, it’s good for the bank.”

Theft Repellent

While the prominent logo attracts attention to the bank, it can also act as a deterrent to potential thieves, says Christopher Brooks, the CDW systems administrator who manages the company’s custom engraving service. Most of CDW’s laser-engraving customers take the step for the sake of theft prevention as well as brand visibility, he says.

“We see a rising trend among companies and, especially, academic institutions to put their logo or brand on their hardware — the custom engraving looks good and is on for good,” says Brooks. “Thieves are a lot less likely to grab something that’s been permanently marked with a name or logo, since they’re usually hoping to sell what they steal.”

iPad Engraving

Better Device Management

Even if a thief does get away with the hardware, the etched logo and ID number can be invaluable to police when the stolen item is recovered and they want to return it to its owner, says Cpl. Jerry Neufeld of the Amarillo Police Department Crime Prevention Unit.

“Anything that can make an item identifiable to law enforcement is a good thing, and the more permanent the marking is, the better,” he says. “Also, the more specific the information on the marking is, the more likely the owner is to get it back.”

The new tablets for Happy State Bank directors are replacements for the hard-to-come-by first-generation iPad devices for which bank staff scoured stores in two states several years ago. This time, the bank went to CDW for the 20 iPads they needed for directors and for help with issues in managing the first-generation devices, says Bryan Barcroft, application support specialist at the bank. In the course of discussing the purchase, the bank’s IT team learned about the custom-engraving option, one of the offerings provided by CDW’s configuration services.

“We needed an update for the iPad, and we were looking for ways to manage the devices more efficiently,” says Barcroft. “When the engraving service came up, it seemed like the right idea. This is our board of directors, so we want the package to look as professional as possible — we’re not going to slap a sticky label on the back of the iPad we give them.”

Inexpensive Insurance

Happy State Bank is also considering putting a laser-engraved logo and identifier on notebooks and other mobile devices used by bank staff, as well as equipment in some of its branches, says Barcroft.

The cost of the engraving is negligible in relation to a $1,000 notebook and is certainly worth it for the security and visibility benefits,” he says. “We’re thinking about it for anything mobile.”

Jeff Harbin

Become an Insider

Unlock white papers, personalized recommendations and other premium content for an in-depth look at evolving IT