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Friday, July 03, 2009

Watch what you do with your old hard drives BEFORE you sell or disposed of them

Northrop Hard Drive Turns Up in Ghana

Published: 2 Jul 2009 14:46
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Canadian journalism students bought a computer hard drive for $40 in the West African nation of Ghana and discovered that it contained sensitive information about U.S. defense contracts.

The drive apparently once belonged to Northrop Grumman or a Northrop Grumman employee, and it contained information about contracts the company had with the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security.

The students were in Ghana to work on a television report on the dumping of old electronic equipment there.

According to the University of British Columbia, the students bought the hard drove in an open-air market in February. It contained information about a number of contracts, some that had been recently finished, others that were still ongoing. It also contained information about Northrop's effort to win a $1.2 billion contract to perform personnel management work for the Transportation Security Administration. Ultimately, the agency hired Lockheed Martin to perform the work.

In a written statement, Northrop said, "we believe this hard drive may have been stolen after one or our asset-disposal vendors took possession of the unit."

The company says it has "a detailed asset-disposal procedure in place," but "no company can inoculate itself completely against crime."

The university said the discovery of the data-laden hard drive was reported to the FBI.

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