Personal data found on surplus Wash. computers

OLYMPIA, Wash. - A Washington state audit has found confidential data, including Social Security numbers and tax information, on some surplus state computers that had been set aside for sale or donation.

The audit released Thursday found private information on 11 computers that were set to be given away or sold last summer. Auditors looked at 177 of about 1,200 computers sent to surplus by more than a dozen state agencies. Based on the findings and a statistical analysis, The Seattle Times says auditors estimated that 9 percent of surplus computers contained sensitive information.

The state's chief information officer, Michael Cockrill, says there have been no reports of any compromised information. He says the state addressed the problems before the audit was released, including establishing new rules for erasing data.

The audit found that despite state law requiring computers to be scrubbed before going to surplus, some agency workers either were not following the rules or were being sloppy.

The Times says the state has been getting rid of about 10,000 surplus computers annually.