back to article eBay hard drive spills out governor's campaign documents

From the files of IT bloopers comes this cautionary tale: a California man stumbled upon a stash of confidential data belonging to the Arkansas Democratic Party after its computer consultant accidentally sold a hard drive containing the material on eBay. Bill Ries-Knight, also an IT consultant, purchased the 120 GB Seagate …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    How hard is it to format a drive before selling it? I know data can be recovered easily with simple utilities (done it myself many times), but just formatting it is enough to discourage 99.9% of would-be information thieves. Or use one of the many available freeware data-wipe utils. Or even download a utility from the manufacturer's website--most of these have the ability to write all 0s to the drive. Again, are people really that ignorant?

  2. Jason Harvey

    re: Geez

    "Again, are people really that ignorant?"

    you really have to ask?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I actually hate seeing people selling computers on second hand without the hard drive, it's not hard to render all data gone. They're just loosing money and wasting good hardware.

  4. Daniel Ballado-Torres


    An IT bloke that doesn't know about PGP? Sheesh, 60 bucks and you get full HD crypto. Or go for the free version and wipe the stuff.

    Hell, even badblocks has the "aggressive pattern check" that basically does a datawipe on the thing! There's no excuse on this blooper, not even "my wife sold my sooper sekrit harddrive".

    Of course, you can wipe data the hard way: lotsa magnets, rubber mallets or a hammer. Do it the BOFH way ;)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This fool holds an important post?

    Forget the data on the drive - this buffoon couldn't reimage with a FULLY FUNCTIONAL drive as the master?!? And he's now the liason to the governor on all state IT matters!?

    No wonder government IT is so bad.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. David Perry

    Of course!

    @This fool holds an important post? Think Bush.....

    @Silly. What's loosing?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never mind the liaison guy

    Surely if the wife didn't know the origins of the hard drive -which she clearly didn't - she shouldn't have been selling it on eBay at all, "as new" or otherwise!

  9. JP

    Moral of the Story

    Keep your wife away from your tech kit!

    Though I don't see how good he could have been at his job, if he got the drive but couldn't recover the data on it, and his wife then sells it on as new...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ David Perry

    @Silly. What's loosing?

    The result of Guinness and vindaloo.

  11. Steve


    My Mum wanted to dump an old (very old, 486/W95) system. She asked me to destroy the hard drive, since at a massive 340Mbytes it wasn't ever going to be worth reusing.

    I learned something interesting. Even with a drive that old, it is *really* difficult to take a hammer & chisel to it :)

    BOFH or not, after years of always taking backups to protect data it just goes against the grain to assault a disk with a hammer! As for that little pinging 'chime' when the chisel hit the platter... ouch, that hurts.

  12. Kevin Johnston


    It is when an archer releases an arrow and is part of the origin of a 'fast and loose' person. When a leader shouts Fast all archers must hold still but an untrustworthy archer might loose a nocked arrow in error hence fast and loose.

    Bugs me as well when people type loose instead of lose. :<

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The wife was going to ditch'em I tells ya!

    1 word Trucrypt........... actually that's a joining of 2 words true and crypt but you guessed that........

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Re: "Of course, you can wipe data the hard way: lotsa magnets, rubber mallets or a hammer. Do it the BOFH way ;)"

    Just for fun, on a slow day at work, I took a failing laptop hard drive & decided to expose it to the effects of a bulk tape eraser/degaussing coil. The coil was strong enough to actually violently lift the drive, slamming it into the coil with a loud clank, then emitting an angry buzz until I released it. I did this several times, from several different angles, finding it amusing. Then I decided to try to read the drive. To my astonishment, I could read all of the data still! Running chkdsk on the drive only turned up very minor errors after all of this. So I'd say the "lotsa magnets" approach is out... the hammer still works pretty well tho.

  15. Marlon


    bah, Microwave.... :D

  16. John A Blackley

    Something you're missing

    @Geez and @Stoopid, et al

    Please consider that we're talking about Arkansas pols here and eliminate the need for redundant questions.

    Thank you

  17. b shubin

    Amateur technicians deliver amateur results

    this man should seek other employment. he does not belong in IT.

    since he had functional hardware, there's an easy solution.

    a free utility, provided as image download, can boot from floppy, CD, DVD, USB, and flash, provides various levels of DoD-level secure wipe:

  18. laird cummings


    "...after years of always taking backups to protect data it just goes against the grain to assault a disk with a hammer!..."

    Huh. I never find it difficult at all. Quite theraputic, really. Mind you, I don't usually stoop to the chisel level - I use a 16lbm splitting maul, which usually goes straight through the drive, platters and all, on the first go. Once I used a 20-ton hydraulic press with a punch. That was a real hoot, but too slow for day to day destruction.

  19. Sampler

    Secure Wipe, Hammers, Chisel, Magents and Microwaves....

    You've all got the wrong idea, the real question you should be asking yourself is: does it blend?

  20. Geoff Gale


    One word my friend - Thermite.

  21. Andy Bright

    Off Topic - but

    Someone needs to tell Americans the correct pronunciation of Arkansas and Maryland is Ar-Kan-Zers and Mary-Lernd. (See Kansas and anything ending in Land).

    Not Ar-Kern-Sor and Marry-Lernd.


    -Randomly Relocated English Person

  22. Alan Donaly

    Andy shut up

    I live in Kansas we don't need any extra help looking stupid

    Apparently there was absolutely nothing wrong with the drive

    so what was the fools problem I assume it was formatted for

    XP just shove it in your PC du jour and install Linux over it and

    no one will ever find your old files. Seagates are tough to break

    I killed a Gateway with one once dropped it the full tower length

    into the bottom graphics card and that was that though I still

    have the drive three years later and it still works fine.

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