Thoughts, information and reflections about technology

Large office copiers and your privacy

Most large office copiers today have an integral hard drive. If your copier is returned or sold and the hard drive is not cleared then you are at serious risk of exposing personal and sensitive data.

The video below show just how easy it is to find sensitive information on copiers that have been resold.

If you have a business that uses these copiers, you need to be aware of the risk and ensure that the machines are completely cleared of data before disposal. These are also known as MFP’s or multi function peripherals.

In a worst case scenario, the recipient of your device would have access to gigabytes of data: Incoming and outgoing faxes as well as documents that were copied or printed.

The information could contain:

  • Trade secrets
  • Company financial information
  • Personally identifiable information of customers, vendors and employees.
  • Access codes for computer systems
  • Potentially embarrassing personal information. 

Prevention

Determine your risk. Some of the questions you should ask and require written answers for are:

  • Does this device store documents? 
  • Can the stored information be encrypted? 
  • What type of encryption is used? 
  • Will the delivered devices have encryption activated? 
  • Will our company have sole access to the encryption keys?
  • Can we remove the storage devices prior to returning the machine? 
  • Is there a function to wipe the data? This isn’t just an erase but a high grade wiping where random data is written to the complete drive several times. 
  • Will we have the right to remove the drives or wipe them in the event of a repossession? 
  • Are all access codes changed from the factory default? 
  • Does the vendor have the ability to remotely access the device? If so, can we lock that out? 
  • What safeguards are in place to prevent hackers from access the drives 

This is a sample, you should take care to thoroughly investigate any vulnerabilities. 

Note that almost all of these machines are networked. The machine does not have to physically leave the premises for a hacker to access the data. 

Office copiers and sensitive information
Office copiers and sensitive information bluebudgie / Pixabay

Additional reading…

Summary

Secure information resides on your multi function devices. Small home printers most likely do not have document storage but you should check before disposing of them.

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