Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Speaking of computers...

Jive-talkin' Skinnydan was perusing our local provider of news and came across this rather scary sort of story: Cottonwood man says used computer yields private patient records

COTTONWOOD, Ala. (AP) — A south Alabama man found private information about hundreds of medical patients — including his late grandfather — when he turned on an old IBM computer he purchased for $10 at a flea market.

Shawn Peterman bought the machine Sunday at Sadie's Flea Market and, when he started it later that day, a program called "Doctor's Office Manager" popped up with information on former patients of Dothan Pulmonary Associates.

The information appeared to have been entered around 1995, and a summary screen listed the number of patient records at 3,333. Included in the information were patients' names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and insurance information.

A quick search led him to information about his grandfather, who died six years ago.

"I can't tell you how upset I am," said Peterman, of Cottonwood. "Literally, there was everything there that someone would need to steal someone's identity."

Peterman is an admitted "computer geek," but he said the information would have been easily accessible to anyone.

Dothan Pulmonary Associates is no longer open. The two primary physicians listed on Peterman's computer were Greg Shields and Brian Sinclair.

"I can't imagine how something like that could happen," Shields said. "We make efforts to delete things and clean things up."

Peterman said he took a quick glance at only one or two files and plans to delete the information before using the computer.

Incredible. And incredibly fortunate that it wound up in honest hands--it kinda makes you wonder how many might not have.

And by the way, "deleting files" doesn't. They're as hardy as kudzu. Before you get rid of any computer, it's a good idea to have the hard drive professionally erased, which consists of disassembling it and melting all the pieces into a big glob.

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