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Lost Media Guideline

Often, mobile media such as floppy diskettes, zip disks, data CDs, VCR tapes, DVD’s and flash drives are abandoned in publicly accessible areas. This type of computer media can contain potentially sensitive information. While it is our desire to return lost property to the rightful owner, we should be conscionable of the protection of data on computer media. The intent of this guideline is to prescribe the best practice for the handling of lost computer media.

When Found
When abandoned computer media is discovered, it should labeled as to location and date/time found and then sent to Parking Services, (which is the campus Lost & Found center). If the media is discovered in an IT lab, it should be retained until the next morning.

Verify Ownership
IT asks our lab users to label media with their usernames. This helps for ID purposes, and also provides contact information. A person claiming to be the rightful owner of computer media should be able to verify their identity via picture ID and the contents, (files), on the media. Before media is returned to a claimant, Parking staff should verify ownership by obtaining permission from the claimant to view the file names on the disk, and then have the claimant adequately describe the contents of the disk.

Lost media should be kept in Lost & Found for up to one year, (or as specified by Safety and Security). The public should not have unsupervised access to the media. This ensures that only the rightful owner has access to the data stored on the media.

Return to IT for proper disposal
If after the prescribed period of time no one has claimed the computer media, it should be returned to IT for proper disposal/recycling. This process includes adequately erasing the media to ensure no possibility that the information can be retrieved by any means. Tape and diskettes should be destroyed with a magnet/degaussing tool, CD/DVD’s should be physically broken and flash drives should be erased.