Sunday, May 23, 2010

Data stored on copy machines: a source of identity theft

Most Americans don’t know that every document that is scanned, copied, printed or faxed is stored on a copier’s hard drive. That data is never erased. So, when you return your copier, sell it, or recycle it, all the data that remains on the copier’s hard drive goes with it and who ever receives it. Most copier’s lack any built in security to protect the data and documents stored on the copier hard drive so anyone with only limited knowledge can access this information.

This means that any business that uses a copier may be exposing your personal or business private information to identity thieves ….or anyone for that matter.

Watch this CBS News report for more information

So what can you do? Here are a few tips for good copier security:

  • Be careful what you copy. Avoid copying personal information on work or public machines. Especially if you have no control over how those machines are administered.
  • If you're leasing a machine, discuss end of life security with your copier service provider to ensure that copy machine hard drives will be completely erased when the machine is removed.
  • The other alternative is to destroy or erase the disk yourself before selling the machine or allowing it to be removed from your premise. You can ask your computer service provider if they know how to remove the hard drive from the copier and erase all the data and documents. My company Avisotek provides this service upon client’s request, but also as a matter of security planning and compliance.

Some copiers have privacy and security software available. Sharp and Xerox, for example, can overwrite images so that they don't remain on the hard drive after the print job finishes. Discuss these features with your vendor and implement appropriate security policies.