Audit stops sale of N.J. computers loaded with sensitive data

    Surplus New Jersey state computers were almost sent to public auction carrting sensitive information.

    The shrink-wrapped computers on pallets at the state’s surplus property warehouse had hard drives containing Social Security numbers, health records, and confidential child abuse reports.

    New Jersey comptroller Matt Boxer says state agencies did not follow procedures requiring them to erase those hard drives. He says an audit detected the data before those computers were sent to auction.

    “Had this information gone out the effects would have been very substantial,” said Boxer. “At a time when identity theft is as prevalent as it is, better care needs to be taken.”

    Boxer says some workers were reluctant to remove the data from the computers because they thought the procedure would produce noise and magnetic fields.

    The state has now modified its policy, and agencies will be required to remove the hard drives from all computers sent for auction.

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