Millions of offices use digital photocopiers that retain your copied information on their hard drive
Every time you use a digital photocopier, a copy of your document may be stored somewhere on the copier's internal hard drive. If the copied information includes your personal data, that too could be the source of identity theft. Al images scanned on the machines are stored in the hard drive, including documents with personal data such as medical history, Social Security numbers and bank account numbers.
If the copier is connected to a network, your information may be free to a hacker if the company's security is breached.
Even worse, after a company purchases a new copier, many copiers are recycled and shipped overseas, with the data on their internal hard drive intact – and ready for harvesting by identity thieves.
Businesses may think they have a bullet proof security system in place, but unless they have included their digital copier in the plan, there may be a gaping security flaw. Most states have passed legislation requiring that business owners take steps to protect consumers' personal information. But many businesses fail to take their copiers into account when developing security protocols. If they don't take the necessary precautions, copier hard drives could be resold to third parties, possibly in a foreign country, where identity theft is harder to control.
In order to protect the users and businesses from harm, there are some steps that can be taken:
Business owners and office administrators have several options to protect stored data:
Businesses can password protect the hard drive – this does not remove the data, but thieves would need the password or have sophisticated software to break the password code in order to access the data.
Businesses can purchase software that scrubs the disk or removes all the data from hard drives. This process, called “disk scrubbing,” leaves the thief no data to steal.
Software to prevent data from being stored at all or to encrypt data can be found on-line. Some photocopier manufacturers, such as Sharp or Xerox, offer this software with the copier when it is purchased.