Recently, I read an article by Armen Keteyian on the CBS News website dated April 19, 2009 which described a serious security problem when office digital copiers are traded in or sold. Since 2002, nearly every digital copier built contains a hard drive which stores a digital image of every document copied, scanned or e-mailed by the copy machine.
machine provided 300 pages of individual medical records. These included everything from drug prescriptions to blood test results to a cancer diagnosis – a potentially serious breach of federal privacy law."
Each copier with a hard drive is packed with highly-personal or sensitive data, such as client records, Social Security numbers and other sensitive information that represents a pot of gold to someone in the identify theft business. In February 2010, CBS News went with John Juntunen, president of Digital Copier Security (which has developed software called “INFOSWEEP” that can scrub all the data on hard drives), to a warehouse in New Jersey, one of 25 across the country, to see how difficult it would be to buy a used copier loaded with documents. It turns out, it’s pretty easily done, and the cost for the copiers was about $300 each. It took Juntunen just 30 minutes to pull the hard drives out of the copiers. Then, using a forensic software program available for free on the Internet, he ran a scan – downloading tens of thousands of documents in less than 12 hours. One copy machine - from Affinity Health Plan, a New York insurance company – provided 300 pages of individual medical records. These included everything from drug prescriptions to blood test results to a cancer diagnosis – a potentially serious breach of federal privacy law. Another 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. All the major manufacturers claim to offer security or encryption packages on their products. One product, from Sharp, automatically erases an image from the hard drive. It costs $500. But evidence suggests that many businesses are unwilling to pay for such protection, and that the average American is completely unaware of the dangers posed by digital copiers.
Allen Shapiro is the founder and the Vice-President of Design One Corporation, a Rockville, Maryland firm that has provided secure Local Area Networks and Wide Area Networks, maintenance and technical support for law firms in Maryland and Washington, D.C. for 28 years.