The latest identity theft risk…. copiers??!!

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Back in olden times when copiers were just copiers, the biggest security risk was forgetting to pick up your copies – or walking away after the paper ran out with the last page still on the drum.

It’s all different now. Today, copiers are multi-function devices (MFD’s) that are a combination scanner, printer, and hard drive, connected to the office (or home) data network.

Did you say “hard drive”…??

Yes, the newest copiers have hard drives in them. Oftentime, copiers store images of what they’re copying or printing on the hard drive, and who knows how long those images are still there. But that’s not the biggest concern of mine.

As I mentioned, these copiers also function as network-connected printers, not unlike regular printers that are on the network. You open a file and click File > Print > and select that printer down the hall. Well, that printer is increasingly the office copier as well.

Here’s the risk: any time you connect a new sort of technology (like copiers) to a network, there is the risk that the device could have a defect or vulnerability that would permit a smart and malicious person to exploit the vulnerability. In the case of a copier, such a person would want to figure out how to get to the images that were stored on the copier’s hard drive, or worse yet, figure out how to break in to the copier (over the network) and get the copier to send to him (or her) everything that others are printing and copying.

Sound outrageous? It’s not. Such breakins have occurred with regularity over the past 30 years. Copiers are just computers, and I’m willing to bet that a copier with a hard drive is nothing more (or less) than a Windows or Linux system with special hardware. If I’m right, then there’s a decent chance that we’ll begin to hear about vulnerabilities and perhaps even exploits with copiers in the near future.

A very old copier The copier in this picture probably does not have a disk drive inside.

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One thought on “The latest identity theft risk…. copiers??!!

  1. Mike Marusic

    This is true, however, many companies now offer a seucrity kit that can prevent this type of risk. Sharp has had Common Criteria certified (NSIT Certification) products for the past 6 years. These not only provide hard drive overwrite, they also can provide MAC Flitering.

    Reply

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