Last month, CBS news released an investigative report that exposed data security risks associated with today's high-end digital copiers.
To sum it up, here's the problem that's uncovered in the report: Because these copiers use flash memory or hard drives to store scanned information, any document that's copied on them tax records, pay stubs, etc. is saved within the machine.
Of course, when a company decides to resell or recycle an old copier, it can overwrite the local memory drives. Or, it can remove the drive completely. But, is that what companies typically do? Is that what your company does?
Those are intriguing questions. They're so intriguing in fact, that now the Federal Trade Commission has become involved.
Congressman John Markey wrote to the FTC to voice his concerns about privacy risks associated with the use of digital copiers. Last week, the FTC responded. From the FTC letter:
The FTC is aware of reports regarding the privacy risks associated with the use of digital copiers. 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 says it is reaching out to copier manufacturers, resellers and retail copy and office supply stores to ensure that they are aware of the risks and to ensure that they provide appropriate education on this subject to their clients. In addition, the FTC is reviewing its educational materials to see if there are ways it can supplement its guidance to both businesses and consumers on this issue.
Keeping data secure is an on-going challenge for both individuals and businesses and a constant headache for those trying to mitigate risks. You can learn more about how to deter, detect and defend against identity theft at the FTC website.