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  • #2195845

    Who wants easy access PC cases anyway??


    by cawiddis ·

    I manage several customer contact centers that have around 1500 workstations in each. Recently as the major vendors were bidding for our PC refresh business they were all eager to point out how their cases included “Easy Access” thumb screws (gone are the 3-4 phillips head screws); easy to remove components (nice big green clips that flick with one thumb); all of which would make replacing parts fast and simple.

    That’s true… but it also makes it fast & simple to steal components. Especially RAM and HDDs that are no longer (in the case of HDDs) fastened to the chassis with screws.

    When I asked the vendors if their focus on easy access & remove was in recognition that their PCs had to be regularly serviced and components replaced… they quickly backed away. So if routine failure and replacement was not a driver, then what…?? Well.. You see.. We listened.. We thought..

    Aside from my home PC (which is opened up probably every other month), I never want to see the PCs in our centers opened up. We don’t upgrade the HDDs regularly. We aren’t always installing additional RAM or higher spec CPUs.

    So it leaves me to conclude that this easy access feature is just and attempt to ‘show value’ (that isn’t provided.

    True, most Cases now have a standard case-lock ring. After the loss of >10 HDDs, >15 RAM sticks & 5 CPUs (in one month) we’ve now installed combination padlocks. We’re now looking at replacing this with a single master key lock as the (evil) staff quickly worked out how to pick the combination on these simple combo locks (and we lost more hardware).

    So to all the people out there responsible for PC purhcases… if you don’t tend to be opening and removing equipment from your PC’s every other day… help fight back against the vendors. At least 3 screws used to take a minute or two to open a case. I can get ours opened and closed (SANS a RAM stick) in under 45 seconds. Yikes!!

All Comments

  • Author
    • #3150389

      Focusing on the wrong problem

      by jamesrl ·

      In reply to Who wants easy access PC cases anyway??

      Last night I watched a short news item about police using bait cars to catch car theives. They interview one gentleman in jail who had three strikes and therefor a 35 year sentance for car theft. He argued that the police were putting out too tempting a target.

      I used to work in a building with 700 PCs. We had a team of 5 of us who did software issues, and another guy, from our hardware vendor who did nothing but hardware repairs. I am sure he would have preferred easy open cases since he spent all day doing it.

      And another few minutes wont deter a thief. We had some RAM go missing (back when a RAM upgrade was 400$) and we install security screws with two holes in the screwhead indtead of a slot or star. Someone found a common tool that had the same size hold with the same spacing and our $2 each security screws were suddenly all junk.

      You need the locks whether the case is easy access or not. And you need to somehow catch the thieves. Blaming the case is like blaming car manufacturers for making tempting cars to steal.


      • #3149212

        People matter

        by blarman ·

        In reply to Focusing on the wrong problem

        It seems that the problem is even more basic than that – employees. Where there is a will, there is a way (we’re techies, right?) so the real problem is getting the right people and instilling the right motivation.

    • #3150387

      try clearcube blades

      by dr dij ·

      In reply to Who wants easy access PC cases anyway??

      something like clearcube blades
      there is NO PC at the desktop
      only monitor, kb to a small interface box.

      with keyboard you connect to a PC in server room.
      these can be re-imaged in minutes if needed.

      If they steal the clear cube I/F they won’t be able to do anything with it. Theyd’ still be able to steal the monitor but you said not a problem at your site.

      Is kind of like Citrix but without a local PC.
      you could also put video cameras to watch the PCs tho extra expense.

      There’s neat SW like ISpy that captuers video ONLY when things in frame change, and has adjustments for gradual lighting changes so won’t record sunset thru window to empty office.

    • #3150108

      Our hardware is so old…

      by charliespencer ·

      In reply to Who wants easy access PC cases anyway??

      I go to the employees’ houses and steal upgrades from them.

    • #3149306

      You’re kidding, right?

      by gem ·

      In reply to Who wants easy access PC cases anyway??

      With today’s thin margins, the first time you have to fix a system is the first time you loose money on it. As a manufacturer, you can lessen the pain with fast access to system internals.

      If you are really concerned, buy a system with intrusion warning and then lock down the BIOS.

    • #3149283


      by psk_ ·

      In reply to Who wants easy access PC cases anyway??

      That is a lot of equipment to loose in a month. Sounds like your outfit needs to re-look at their hiring and screening policy and possibly look in to some temporary surveillance equipment in the “Hot” areas where most of the loss is. You will probably find out that you do not have a large amount of thieves but rather 1 or 2 very active people that may include night cleaning staff or other outside/contracted staff. Any way you look at it, the culprit or culprits NEED to be identified and prosecuted. A few extra screws will not deter a motivate criminal.

      • #3149239

        Well ya never know who!

        by pcw ·

        In reply to Ouch!

        I worked at a computer company that was losing ram left and right, as well as occasional laptop or monitor. Turned out it was the security guards.

    • #3148452

      I want easy access pc cases

      by unclerob ·

      In reply to Who wants easy access PC cases anyway??

      – not every work environment has top notch air control systems in place, alot of systems accumulate dirt, dust, filth & every other form of pestilence known to man (bugs, hair, nail clips, dead skin, etc.)
      – give you an example, my workplace has both an office & warehouse/distribution center. The whse is extremely dirty but it has a decent sized army of workstations operating in that environment and I routinely have to open up the cases on a majority if not all of the workstations and dust out the interiors and wipe down the case exteriors. A few seconds to remove/reattach the cases vs. a minute or two per workstation makes a big difference. Plus tiny screws are easy to drop & lose which means you have to replace them with different screws. A tool-less chassis is definitely preferable by myself and lots of other professionals in this industry. Work smarter not harder is not just a nice catch phrase.

      Theft of pc components can’t be blamed on the easy access pc, it can however be blamed on the thief or thieves as it were. Why isn’t security involved on this issue, especially in larger size companies, theft of company assets has to be an issue where some form of security is in place to prevent this: hidden camera, security personnel, restricted hours to accessing the building, etc. etc. etc.

      Also, what kind of asset mgmt is in place, do monthly inventories get taken, do you know which pc’s have which components, how long does it take for you to find out if something has been stolen?

      Bottom line, you wouldn’t blame the red corvette (just another example, insert car or item of your choice) that was stolen by some miscreant, you would blame the thief who commits the crime, why is that situation any different from this one. You shouldn’t blame the property itself – next you’ll be blaming the rain for falling or the wind for blowing, the house for being broken into, etc.

      Place the onus of responsibility where it should lie, squarely on the shoulders of the person(s) who perform(s) guilty actions.

      – just my 0.02 cents cdn, feel free to agree/disagree

    • #3148367

      Don’t even THINK about it!

      by htos1 ·

      In reply to Who wants easy access PC cases anyway??

      There is no way I would accept ez-access in the workstation environment.Period!Thatis all! Dismissed!

    • #3148301

      I want easy access PC cases

      by mcwise ·

      In reply to Who wants easy access PC cases anyway??

      I’m a datacenter technician. I work with servers all day. For most of the 20 years I’ve been doing this, the damage caused by physical access to a server for parts replacement, comes from difficult non-intuitive cases and internal components arrangement. The faster I can take down a server, replace a component and get the server back up and running, the happier the users are, and the more reliable the system is over time. I understand your comment, I just don’t agree with the conclusion. Computers have evolved to the point they are like human bodies, and when a component of your body fails, you want fast action, or the whole body may fail. Put the security at a higher level, or require more competent people to do the work.

    • #3148207

      Not a perfect world

      by cawiddis ·

      In reply to Who wants easy access PC cases anyway??

      There are some interesting points about Ezy-Access Pc’s… especially the warehouse type scenarios where you have to get in and clean the internals… I can certainly see where that would be an advantage.

      To update the thread… we’re going to try two approaches: we’re trialling new ‘digital’ locks in one centre (which are hopefully much harder to pick) and in another we’re going to try using a rivet to secure the case. I’m lucky in that the vendor provides an onsite technician who handles all PC problems and repairs… so he’s going to be the one stuck with drilling the rivet out if/when he needs access. Fingers crossed for him that the HP PC’s don’t need regular repairs 😉

      I do agree that the blaim is on the theives not the technicians. I guess I’m frustrated that ezy-access cases mearly speed up their theft. For sure, 3 or 4 case screws are not going to be much of a deterent for the determined. I should mention that I’m in Asia (Philippines) where the wealth of the local population (or lack of it) means that simple RAM sticks are like gold… at least one months salary is in one stick. So the temptation to steal, and get some fast cash on the black market must be very tempting.

      We have security guards, camera’s, bag inspections etc. But in a center that is 70,000 sq ft… there is often a dark corner somewhere where people can get up to no good undetected.

      Cheers to all who responded!

      • #3163400

        I’m not understanding this problem?

        by breadtrk ·

        In reply to Not a perfect world

        Where the heck is the person responsible for PC security? ALL major suppliers of equipment include intrusion detection switches in their cases. It is such a simple matter to set up an alert on the help desk, the network administrator’s desktop, or any number of machines that are used by people in management whenever a case switch goes off. Most monitoring software even has the option to page someone if a case switch goes off.

        I’m not seeing logical attempts to solve this problem.

      • #3163365


        by robert_m_knight ·

        In reply to Not a perfect world

        I sure hope you have some extra cases available. Drilling out rivet on a case is going to ruin the case the first time or after a period of time due to re-entry.

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