New Jersey nearly auctioned off highly sensitive data

Next time your company gets rid of old computer equipment, make sure IT doesn’t skip this important step:

Wipe the hard drives of any data they may still contain.

The New Jersey state government recently missed that part of the process. Last year, New Jersey was about to auction to the public 58 used computers.

The auction was stopped before it happened due to an investigation by state comptroller Matthew A. Boxer to find out what information was still on the machines.

Apparently, there was a lot of information, according to Boxer’s recently released report. The hard drives of 46 of the computers still contained all kinds of sensitive data, including names, addresses, Social Security numbers, files on abused children and tax returns, the New York Times reports.

The biggest problem? A lack of oversight over the employees who were supposed to wipe the drives. According to the report, one agency had a device that magnetically erased hard drives, but workers decided not to use it because it was loud.

At least New Jersey is in good company — NASA recently sold 10 computers to the public before confidential data was removed.