High-End Copiers May Be a Security Gap
John S. Burnett, Associate Editor
In the last few years your bank may have upgraded copiers, especially in headquarters, operations and other high-volume printing locations. With the new copiers you got network printing, fax, email and other capabilities, along with speedier copying of multi-paged documents.
Have you checked those machines to find out if the stored images they use to make all that magic are encrypted or otherwise secured? If your copiers have data security options, are they enabled?
Many high-end copiers use hard-drive storage to make them capable of printing multiple copy sets without recycling originals through the document handler. Those same hard drives let the copiers do double duty as high volume printers, fax machines and email terminals (copy it and send it). Storing the data and making the copier addressable on a network can make the data vulnerable to anyone with physical or network access to the machine. Several copier manufacturers offer data security options with their machines, but the option has to be purchased and turned on to work.
There have not been any reports to date of data stolen or otherwise misused from a copier's hard disk. However, a recent WIRED News article reported that there have been cases in which second-hand copiers have been purchased and former owners' data identified on the disks.
What You Can Do
There are steps you can take to minimize the risk of exposing sensitive data to the wrong eyes.
- When purchasing or leasing new copiers with disk storage, ensure that the machines include data protection features such as encryption, overwriting, or data "shredding."
- Check any current copiers to see that data security features, if present, are enabled.
- Don't forget to check for network access controls.
- Determine whether data security can be retro-fitted on any machines without the feature.
- Before selling or trading in any current copiers with data storage, ensure that the hard drives have been thoroughly scrubbed.
On a Personal Note
If your tax returns haven't yet made it into the mail and you (or your tax preparer) will be making copies, check out the copying machine to see if it has data security enabled. Pages 1 and 2 of that Form 1040 include a lot of personal information that you don't want to fall into the wrong hands!
First published on BankersOnline.com March 2007
First published on 03/01/2007