How criminals can steal your private information from photocopiers

Photocopiers pose one of the most serious security threats to private and sensitive information, with criminals easily gaining access to this valuable data.

The reason for the security vulnerability is that documents which are scanned and faxed on modern photocopiers are stored on hard drives.

Modern digital copiers require hard drives to manage incoming jobs and workloads, and to increase the speed of production.

These hard drives are easy to access, and criminals can steal these drives and extract sensitive information from them.

Apart from the risk of photocopier hard drive theft, these drives also trade hands when copier machines are sold or leased.

Before the machines are moved from your office, the drives are seldom wiped to remove sensitive data.

In a live demonstration on Carte Blanche [see: Beware the copier], security expert Peter Fryer showed how easy it is to extract information from these hard drives when you have the right tools.

Professor Basie von Solms, director of the Centre for Cyber Security at the University of Johannesburg, told Carte Blanche that business centres at big conferences are prime targets.

Many high-level executives attend these events, and scan or copy sensitive documents. This is where the criminals use infected computers and scanners to steal info.

Copier hard drive
Copier hard drive

How to improve your copier security

The Identity Theft Research Centre said most copier manufacturers incorporate security measures that let business owners wipe the hard drives. Copiers can also be password protected.

However, these features are only of value if individuals are aware of them.

It is advised that copier hard drives be wiped often. Copier hard drives should also be destroyed before the copiers are sold or traded.

Security experts advise not using photocopiers altogether if documents contain sensitive information.

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How criminals can steal your private information from photocopiers