Is your Copier a Security Risk?

hard-drive-qouteThe Truth

With the convergence of digital imaging and printing technologies, nearly every digital copier or MFP built since 2002 contains a hard drive; just like the one on your personal computer.  These hard drives store an image of every document copied, printed, scanned, or emailed by the device.  The intention of this design originally was to improve the information processing and handling ability of a digital copier or MFP. However, according to a recent report from CBS, nearly 67% of workers today do not even know the copier/MFP contains a hard drive.  Furthermore, even more people don’t know the potential security risks that this presents…including IT professionals.


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Is your company making sure its data is safe? Do you know who has access to what files?   Nearly 85% of all business class copiers/MFP’s are acquired through a lease and at the end of the term (but in most cases prior) you, your current vendor, or a new vendor return the equipment to a leasing company. Most customers and vendors today do not have a formal process in place that ensures the hard drives are wiped of any sensitive or confidential information.

CBS News investigated the issue of digital copier security and found stunning results.  During their investigation, they uncovered that it only took 30 minutes to pull the hard drives out of the copiers. Then, using a forensic software program available for free on the Internet, a scan was done – downloading tens of thousands of documents in less than 12 hours.

Excerpt from CBS “…It wasn’t until hitting ‘print’ on the fourth machine – from Affinity Health Plan, a New York insurance company, that we obtained the most disturbing documents: 300 pages of individual medical records. They included everything from drug prescriptions, to blood test results, to a cancer diagnosis.  A potentially serious breach of federal privacy law. “You’re talking about potentially ruining someone’s life,” said Ira Winkler. “Where they could suffer serious social repercussions.” Winkler is a former analyst for the National Security Agency and a leading expert on digital security. “You have to take some basic responsibility and know that these copiers are actually computers that need to be cleaned up,” Winkler said.


What choices do you have?  Most office equipment suppliers and manufacturers will tell you that their copiers/MFP’s come with accessories such as “hard drive encryption” kits.  But this is a shallow response and does not insure a real process to protect data AFTER your lease has ended and equipment returned.  What your current or future supplier must do is PROACTIVELY inform you of a process they have in place that erases the hard drive and verifies that your data has been removed. This is simple and in most cases, a process that carries no additional cost. Contact us today to learn more!

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