Used government computers bought at auction filled with personal information
Updated: Feb 17
HOUSTON TX - A months-long investigation once again found the City of Houston selling private, personal information through online auctions of used government equipment.
This time it involved used computers bought by KHOU 11 Investigates.
We purchased the computers, then took them to the digital forensic experts at eInvestigations in Houston.
“On one of the computers, we found a database containing over 100,000 medical records,” explained computer expert Gary Huestis.
But the potentially damaging data left behind didn’t stop there. Huestis and his team found photos of driver's licenses, checks, documents with social security numbers, personal pictures and videos, as well thousands of hours of audio recordings and emails detailing city security procedures.
“It looks like there weren’t any steps taken to try to delete or hide anything,” Huestis said.
“How tough would it be for someone who had bad intentions get one of these computers and get valuable information off them?” KHOU 11 Investigates asked.
“It would be very easy,” Huestis said.
Of the 38 computers Huestis examined, 23 still had hard drives inside. He found information stored on all but one of them.
“It’s not hidden, not encrypted, not formatted, it’s just there to be able to view,” Huestis said.
The only computer that had its memory erased was a laptop purchased from Harris Health System. Only one of the four computers purchased from Harris County contained data, but Huestis was not able to find any personal information stored on it.
By far, the biggest problems came with 21 computers bought from Houston Airport System. A quick scan discovered 11,000 hours of audio recordings stored on the machines along with a variety of personal information.
Read More at KHOU.COM