Monday, May 17, 2010

Document Safety - Be Aware

Click on Link Above to Watch Video!

Those of you that are actively making sure you have back up copies of important documents or are just completing your due diligence with other important and possibly sensitive personal data should be acutely aware of the fact that modern photocopy machines in service since 2002 have computer hard drives installed on them. This was done so they can print large documents more rapidly from computers.

Unfortunately this same convenience feature also records each and every document ever copied on the machine. Therefore those sensitive medical or legal records you might have copied on the office photocopy machine, the post office or a photocopy service are now available to identity thieves or anyone with programs downloaded off the Internet.

When the machines are traded in, the documents often are stored with the machine and the next owner has unrestricted access to them. Many companies do nothing to stop this because they are either unconcerned or uneducated about the security risk - as was the City of Buffalo, New York Police Department and a health care company as seen in this video from CBS News. So, documents copied at a doctor, lawyer, insurance or company office using one of these machines are possibly already out there and ready for the taking.

Programs exist that could wipe the hard drives clean and some copier sales companies insist (now) that they in fact can ensure the safety of the original user (aka owner of the machine - not YOU if you used it at work or wherever) after a trade in. Don't trust that to happen. Don't copy anything sensitive on these type of machines - period.

You might have to seek out older and less complex and non-networked copiers not utilizing hard drives - you might get funny looks from copy center folks who are unschooled in this issue. You may just have to print out any files you have digitally or scan them and print extra copies.....yes a pain to do. Consider the potential consequences of not doing so.

If you own the copy machine or lease them you can purchase a program ($500) to clean the disk or have it erase the file after each use like Sharp brands reportedly do.

Be aware of this going forward and if you are all of a sudden a victim of identity theft.


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