About a month ago, there was an interesting story on the CBS evening news that revealed a little known fact: most photocopiers have a hard drive in them and they contain a copy of every document ever scanned on the photocopier. We’ve covered using DBaN before to wipe the hard drive of your computers before you get rid of them but did you even know that your photocopier had a hard drive?
This week the FTC responded:
“The FTC is aware of reports regarding the privacy risks associated with the use of digital copiers,” Jon Leibowitz, the FTC’s chairman, responded to Markey. “Like you, we also are concerned that personal information can be so easily retrieved from copiers, making it vulnerable to misuse by identity thieves. As you point out, businesses and government agencies should ensure that the information on the hard drives in digital copiers are wiped clean of personal information after the conclusion of use. The FTC is now reaching out to copier manufacturers, resellers and retail copy and office supply stores to ensure that they are ware of the privacy risks.”
What about public photocopiers? Many photocopiers are leased anyways so they might be swapped out and sent back. Without owning the device, I doubt they’re going to allow you to disassemble the photocopier and wipe the drive.
Many personal and personnel documents are copied on these photocopiers and they’re being resold in the US for cheap and they’re even making their way overseas in bulk.
It’s pretty scary. They make ourselves more prone to identity theft and there’s no solution yet.