Old Laptop Sold on eBay Had Classified Information

German defense officials are not happy
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2020 10:00 AM CDT
Old Laptop Sold on eBay Had Classified Information
You just never know what's going to show up on eBay.   (Getty/Arijuhani)

It was quite a bargain. An old but working laptop up for sale on eBay went for $100, and the buyer got classified information from Germany's military as part of the deal. As Deutsche Welle explains, the gaffe started when the military sent decommissioned laptops to a recycling company it works with. The data within was obviously supposed to be erased, but "it can be assumed that an error occurred during the recycling of the computer in question," per a military spokesperson. The bulky Bundeswehr laptop, made in the early 2000s for field use but still running fine with Windows 2000, then went up for sale on the online auction site. Fortunately for the military, researchers from a German online security company bought it, reports the Telegraph.

Once they started poking around, they found detailed instructions regarding the LaFalSys Ozelot air-defense system, which is still in use, including how to destroy it, per DW. "It was easy to access the information," one of the researchers from G Data explains. The Windows login needed no password, and the "login for the program that contained the documentation of the weapons system was protected with a very easy-to-guess password." After that, they could browse at will. The files in question were clearly marked "VS-Nur für den Dienstgebrauch," referring to Germany's lowest-level secret classification. The military is blaming the recycling firm for the mistake. (More classified information stories.)

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