A COMPUTER hard drive allegedly loaded with more than 50,000 personal details of students and tutors from West Cheshire College was sold at a hospital car boot sale.
The discovery was made by a shocked Pioneer reader who bought the second-hand computer tower and hard drive for £5 from a sale at the Countess of Chester Hospital on May 13.
The man, who does not want to be named, said he was stunned when he got home to find thousands of files containing personal information from the college still on the computer’s hard drive.
He claims it included names, dates of birth, emails, course details, exam results, work timetables and even photographs of students.
The next day he contacted the college and spoke to various members of staff in the IT department, but was told the only personal information on the computer was names and login details.
“I am a very private person and I wouldn’t be happy with my details being kept on file like that,” he said.
Weeks later he said he met with two college representatives to give them back the hard drive and was told that an internal investigation was to be conducted.
But unbeknown to the college, he had already made a backup copy of the drive which he is now planning to hand to the Independent Complaints Office as he says he is ‘not happy’ with the ease at which such sensitive data fell into his hands.
“As far as I know that was the only computer on the stall but at the end of the day if this happened to me it can happen to anyone,” he added.
“How much other data is still kept on hard drives?”
However, West Cheshire College have denied there was any sensitive information on the hard drive, and said in a statement: “We conducted an investigation as to the contents of the hard disk and test dates including names and dates of births of less than 60 students were found on the disk with no further relevant information.
“As soon as we were made aware of this issue we contacted the Information Commissioners Office to inform them.
“This particular computer was one of a handful of old computers donated to members of staff and though data is electronically wiped before disposal we have found that this particular computer had a physical issue preventing the full wiping of the disk.
“We have now strengthened our internal processes of disposing of old computers to ensure that our systems are 100% robust.”