Warehouses worldwide hold thousands of used copy machines ready to be sold to unknown buyers. Nearly every copy machine that has been built since 2002 contains a hard drive similar to the one on your computer.
Your copy machine stores images of every document that you scan, email, and copy. Personal information, such as your Social Insurance Number, birth certificate, bank records and income tax forms can be found on your copy machine. This is the kind of information that identity thieves thrive on.
Retrieving images and information from copy machines is easy with a bit of computer knowledge. Too easy. Once you purchase a used machine for about $300 and turn it on, you can find out where it’s from, how many copies and prints are stored on it, and what it was used for.
It takes about 30 minutes to remove a hard drive from a copy machine. You can access thousands of documents in less than 12 hours. All you have to do is download free forensic software programs on the Internet and run a scan.
The industry fails to inform people of the potential risks of copy machines. According to a 2008 Sharp survey, 60% of Americans are unaware about the security risks of copy machines.
Some major manufacturers offer security or encryption packages on their products. There is a Sharp copy machine that automatically erases images from the hard drive, it costs $500 to install this device but most businesses are reluctant to pay for it.
Remember that your copy machine is actually a computer. If your copy machine is ready to be sold, clean up your hard drive and destroy it. This will keep your personal information safe from identity thieves. There are many low cost and free programs available to securely delete files and folders (don’t trust the Recycle Bin) and also completely wipe a hard drive when you are done with it. E.g. WipeDrive, DBAN, Eraser, SDelete, Freeraser.
Do you always wipe your data?