Are Public Copying Machines a Security Risk? - Techist - Tech Forum

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Old 02-18-2011, 10:20 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Are Public Copying Machines a Security Risk?


You probably don't think twice about using your company's photocopier or heading to Kinkos FedEx Office when you need a copy of something. If it's a sensitive document, so what? As long as nobody's peeking, and you retrieve all the copies from the machine, then you're free and clear of any security risk, right? If only that were the case. You may not realize it -- and most people don't -- but that document you just scanned could fall into the wrong hands.

According to CBS News, most digital copiers manufactured over the past nine years store every scan on an internal hard drive. Think about that. Financial reports, work documents, private letters -- it's all sitting there, piling up into a digital gold mine for identify thieves.

"The type of information we see on these machines with the social security numbers, birth certificates, bank records, income tax forms, that would be very valuable," says John Juntunen, who makes a living selling digital copier security software.

Juntunen obviously has a vested here, but he's not yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater devoid of smoke. To see how difficult it would be to extract personal information in this manner, CBS News went with Juntunen to a New Jersey warehouse filled with thousands of copy machines. They bought four used machines for around $300 each, and what they found was surprising.

"We didn't even have to wait for the first one to warm up," CBS News writes. "One of the copiers had documents still on the copier glass, from the Buffalo, N.Y., Police Sex Crimes Division."

In just 30 minutes, Juntunen pulled hard drives out of all four copiers, and then using a free forensic program from the Internet, he extracted documents numbering in the tens of thousands. Names, addresses, social security numbers, copied checks, police reports, 300 pages of individual medical records -- it was all there.

Something to think about the next time you need to make a copy.

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