NASA Accidentally Sells Off Computers With Sensitive Data

nasa laptopNASA recently decided to sell off some of its old computers. Unfortunately, though, it forgot to erase some of the sensitive data that many of those computers still held.

The embarrassing oversight came to light in a recent internal investigation which the issue was discovered at four NASA locations: Kennedy and Johnson Space Centers, and the Ames and Langley Research Centers. According to investigators, NASA sold computers with highly sensitive information on at least 10 occasions. The report also found an additional four computers that were about to be sold, with similarly secret data still on their hard drives. At the Kennedy Space Center, auditors found dozens of computers that had network information marked on their exteriors. Such information, the report claims, could easily give hackers "unauthorized access to NASA's internal computer network."

As the BBC reports, the sold PCs were originally used as part of NASA's shuttle program, which is now drawing to a close. The space agency mandates that all auctioned computers undergo tests to make sure that all sensitive information has been deleted. In these cases, however, even PCs that had failed the tests somehow made their way to the selling block. Officials admit that it's impossible to know what kind of information was on the computers that had already been sold, but, after analyzing data on similar equipment, investigators said the leak certainly "raises serious concerns."

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