Copy Machine Security Risks

Here’s a 5-minute video you really need to watch. It’s a report by CBS News on what could be a huge security risk that most companies probably haven’t even considered: the office copy machine. And I’m not talking about the risk of someone copying sensitive information that they shouldn’t be copying – I’m talking about what happens when the copy machine is retired.

Most modern copy machines contain a hard disk drive. That’s why you can feed a stack of originals into them and walk away while the machine prints and collates multiple copies of your stack. But what you may not know is that most copy machines do not automatically delete those page images from the internal hard drive when they’re done printing. So when you turn that copy machine in at the end of your lease, you’re also handing over thousands of images of documents that you’ve copied on that machine.

Those copy machines are typically re-sold, with the hard drives still intact. Many are shipped overseas. And your documents are shipped right along with them, easily readable by anyone with commercially available hard disk forensic software.

Depending on the nature of your business, that may or may not be a big deal. But think about this:

  • Have you ever made photocopies of a new employee’s driver’s license or social security card for your files?
  • Have you ever photocopied an order form that contained a customer’s credit card information?
  • Have you ever photocopied your company tax returns, forecasts, bugetary information, or financial planning documents?
  • Have any of your employees used it to make copies of their own tax returns?
  • What about proprietary information or trade secrets?

And, of course, if you’re a business that deals with sensitive documents – such as a law firm, an insurance company, or a business that handles medical records – you (and your clients or patients) may have even more at stake.

So, please, spend five minutes and watch this video. Then, the next time you’re ready to retire a copy machine, find a way to get the hard drive out of it and destroy it yourself before it goes beyond your reach.

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