Alert: Copiers Can Put Your Business at Risk!

Your copy machines hold the key to success or failure for your business. One can argue that your office machines are a digital time-bomb packed with highly-personal or sensitive data. Therefore, whether it’s currently on your network or if the information scanned, copied, printed, and emailed does not leave your office – your business could be at risk and even face federal charges!

Nearly every digital copier built since 2002 contains a hard drive. The type of information found on your copier could include social security numbers, birth certificates, bank records, and income tax forms. For those in the identity theft business, your copy machine would be a pot of gold, as well as your ticket to facing federal charges for noncompliance to federal regulations regarding devices.

Recently, an investigation launched in a warehouse in New Jersey, which was one of 25 across the country, tried to see how hard it would be to buy a used copier loaded with sensitive document information – three total machines were picked.

The first copier had documents still on the copier glass from the Buffalo, N.Y., Police Sex Crimes Division. It took their data specialist just 30 minutes to pull the hard drives out of the copiers. Then, using a forensic software program available for free on the Internet, the specialist ran a scan / downloading of tens of thousands of documents in less than 12 hours which included: detailed domestic violence complaints, a list of wanted sex offenders, and a list of targets in a major drug raid among others.

The second machine, from a New York construction company, spit out design plans for a building near Ground Zero in Manhattan; 95 pages of pay stubs with names, addresses and social security numbers; and $40,000 in copied checks!

The third machine, from Affinity Health Plan, a New York insurance company – had the most disturbing documents: 300 pages of individual medical records, including drug prescriptions, blood test results, even a cancer diagnosis. This is a serious breach of HIPAA, the federal privacy law protecting healthcare patients’ records.

Device manufacturer Sharp also recently commissioned a survey on copier security, finding that 60 percent of Americans “don’t know” that copiers store scanned images on a hard drive. Sharp tried to warn consumers about this simple act of copying. However, evidence keeps piling up in warehouses that many businesses are unwilling to pay for securing the needed protection, and the average American is completely unaware of the dangers posed by digital copiers. 

If you have concerns about what measures your company is taking to secure sensitive information on your copiers, please contact us. Being informed and taking steps to form a comprehensive data security plan makes all the difference when it comes to properly safeguarding your company from a costly security breach.