Patient Information Accessed From Old Computers in Oz
The Australian Sunday Times ran a story last weekend claiming that old hospital computers containing confidential patient information were being dumped in an open trash container in a busy alleyway at Royal Perth Hospital. The paper claimed to have been able to recover some of the information, including patient names and addresses, dates of birth, medical conditions and patient numbers. According to the Times, some 500 computers have been dumped this way.
Royal Perth, however, claims that the computer hard drives were wiped clean, but the Times said regardless that it was able to access the information very easily. The hospital also said that the computers were being destroyed by the scrap metal contractors picking them up, but the Times said it had sources that said that the computers were sometimes being resold.
After the story was published, the hospital and others claimed that the only way the Sunday Times could have accessed the information is if the paper had stolen the computers. Jim McGinty, Western Australia's Health Minister, is accusing the paper of "stealing the computers and engaging a 'hacker' to access their contents" during its investigation into Royal Perth Hospital's security of patient information. McGinty has called the police to investigate both the journalist and the paper.
This should get interesting.
In a side note, Western Australia's Auditor-General Colin Murphy in March reported that â''personal details of public servants, including salaries, home addresses and tax file numbers, were being released to the public when second-hand State Government computers were sold for as little as $2.â'' This is what drove the Times to do the story, it said.