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Govt. Data Security #131866 06/04/04 10:53 AM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
pauluk Offline OP
Last year I acquired a huge batch of old computers and boxes full of spares. I've been going through them gradually and a few days ago I finally got down to four old IBM PC/AT machines which had been sitting in somebody's garage for years.

The damp had corroded some parts beyond redemption, but I salvaged a few spares and got one system up and running. All four systems had stickers on them indicating that they were once the property of H. M. Treasury in London.

Well, I got quite a surprise when I fired up one of the old 20MB hard disks and found a copy of WordStar complete with hundreds of confidential treasury letters and memos intact!

The most recent files are dated around 1988, which sounds about right for when the treasury would have decided to upgarde to new machines (tax-payers expense, of course).

I'm sure that data is all water-under-the-bridge now, but no doubt that at the time the machines were sold off somebody in finance could have made good use of it had they stumbled upon it. Oh, and there are one or two letters indicating the views of quite high-up officials about the appointment of certain individuals to various treasury positions. (I'd tell you more, but then I'd have to shoot you... [Linked Image])

Wouldn't you have thought that the government would have wiped these disks before letting them out of the building?

Let's hope that their data security has improved a little since the late 1980s.

Tools for Electricians:
Re: Govt. Data Security #131867 06/05/04 02:13 AM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 642
nesparky Offline
Why do you expect common sense, foresight, or intellenge from a beaurocratic organization?
IMHO the only reason most of those clowns have a goverment job it the would get fired from any other job that did not have the excessive civil service protections.

Re: Govt. Data Security #131868 06/05/04 12:06 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 2,527
Bjarney Offline
Officially, it may have been reasoned at the time of disposal that “power switch off” meant “data no longer accessible” or “data properly encrypted.”

Re: Govt. Data Security #131869 06/05/04 12:59 PM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,721
Scott35 Offline
Broom Pusher and

found a copy of WordStar

Wordstar!!! Alright!!!
HTML Tagging for Word Processing [Linked Image]

No Dongles needed for accessing stuff on the drive?

Anyhow, sounds like a fun look back to the 80286 days!


Scott " 35 " Thompson
Just Say NO To Green Eggs And Ham!
Re: Govt. Data Security #131870 06/05/04 01:45 PM
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 328
BuggabooBren Offline
Ahhh, WordStar2000 was where my intro to desktop computing all began... back in 1987 or so....

Working in the government arena, surely you jest that they'd think of all of the security measures needed... they probably put the computers out in the hall until the janitors came to wax floors or clean carpets and someone completely out of the loop was asked to 'move them or get rid of them, yeah they're ready to go...'

Re: Govt. Data Security #131871 06/05/04 07:35 PM
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 123
mvpmaintman Offline
Treasury and Intelligence may be an oxymoron just like Miltiary and Intelligence.

I live near an Army post that has a DRMO office (Defense Reutilisation Material Office) their idea of disabling most things is to simply disassemble all the parts and make sure no one bidder buys all the parts.

Re: Govt. Data Security #131872 06/06/04 03:53 PM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
pauluk Offline OP
Yeah, shame on me for even thinking about putting "common sense" and "government" in the same sentence... [Linked Image]

Reminds me of some lines out of the BBC show Yes Minister:

Jim Hacker MP: Who knows about this Humphrey?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: It's classified top secret Minister.
Jim Hacker MP:Oh, you mean everybody already knows?

No dongles required. All just there on the disk for all to see.....

[This message has been edited by pauluk (edited 06-06-2004).]

Re: Govt. Data Security #131873 06/08/04 10:57 AM
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 349
Radar Offline
Might be kinda interesting to see what kind of reaction you get if you just box the unit up and send it back to Her Majesty. You know, maybe include a short note of concern that her Treasury might be missing some data.

Seriously, the people in the disposal department probably had no idea there was anything in the box, and the job description of the previous user did not include disposal, or preparation for disposal, of old equipment. Bureaucratic to the core.


There are 10 types of people. Those who know binary, and those who don't.
Re: Govt. Data Security #131874 06/09/04 04:44 AM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
pauluk Offline OP
Might be kinda interesting to see what kind of reaction you get if you just box the unit up and send it back to Her Majesty. You know, maybe include a short note of concern that her Treasury might be missing some data
Good idea, but the way our crazy "justice" system works these days, I'd probably end up with a visit from the "men in black" accusing me of being in possession of state secrets and looking for anything else I shouldn't have!

Re: Govt. Data Security #131875 06/18/04 04:10 AM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,346
Trumpy Offline
No Dongles needed for accessing stuff on the drive?
What is a Dongle?.
My old Commodore 64 came with a dongle, is this the same thing?.
There was a case locally here, where some 17 year olds were on the Net, talking about a game that they had been playing.
One of them had a file that he sent to the other, titled "Osama Bin.exe" .
About half an hour after the file transfer took place the Security Intellegence service had him lying on the footpath outside his parents house, along with the Armed Offenders Squad.
Sure stupid name for a file, but what a real knee-jerk reaction from the authorities here, they also did the same thing at the other fella's place at the same time.
Wierd man!. [Linked Image]

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