Copy machines pose unlikely security threat

copycatEvery office has them and although paperless offices are the new black, copy machines will probably be around for years to come. However, thousands of old copies stored on hard drives will also stick around.

Most copy machines built in the last decade have a hard drive and can store thousands of documents scanned, copied or emailed using the machine. Some hard drives are big enough to store 60,000 to 100,000 pages of data, so these benevolent dinosaurs are in fact massive security threats lurking in the corner, next to the water cooler.

Mike McCurdy with Integrated Technologies sells copy machines in Idaho and he shared some his concerns in a chat with Fox News. He pointed out that old copy machines can contain social security numbers, bank records, health statements and just about anything else.

“It’s retaining all of those records and they are accessible. When it’s on the hard drive, it’s just like a computer, if that gets into the wrong hands – that information can be pulled right off the hard drive,” said McCurdy. “It’s memory. It’s like a computer. When you put information or save data on memory, it’s just there.”

Luckily there are ways of purging the data, but it doesn’t come cheap. McCurdy says data security kits can be installed for $400 to $500, but they need to be installed when the machine is purchased. The alternative is to take out the hard drive once the machine is thrown out.

“The only way to make sure it goes away is to drill a hole through the hard drive when you finish using it,” McCurdy said.

Unless users make sure that all data has been erased before the machine leaves the office, they could be exposing themselves to a massive security breach. So, unless you’ve taken all the precautions, it might be a good idea to organise a teardown-hard-drive-hunt party after your copier decides to pull a Benedict XVI.