Local News

Some State Agency Computers Still Have Personal Info On Hard Drives

Posted February 18, 2004

— The state of North Carolina buys new computers and gets rid of old ones, but the hard drives from those computers are supposed to be clean before they are discarded. However, a new audit discovered that has not always the case.

The

State Auditor's Office

said it found personal information on old state-agency computers, including Social Security numbers, pornography and loan applications. In one case, a hard drive contained information about some members of the North Carolina National Guard and their Social Security numbers.

Campbell said a random sample of 96 state-agency computers resulted in 35 still containing sensitive personal information. Officials said the information is either from the person using the computer, the clients or the agency.

"You actually could end up going in and literally pull up the entire password list on the agency on which that information or that computer had been used," Campbell said.

State agencies are required to erase information on computer hard drives when they turn them over to the surplus property office. Campbell said many agencies were not doing their work.

"With a computer, when you hit a delete key, it does not delete all of the information," he said.

Campbell said he was very concerned because many of the computers go to the state prison system where inmates are trained to repair the computers. He said the information left on computers may lead to the potential of identity theft.

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