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October 20, 2010


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Every time I copy something sensitive work, afterwards I open up the copier and run an electromagnet all over all of the circuit boards - it erases everything. The next guy who uses the copier after me puts in a call to tech support. Two weeks later, the copier is ready to go again so I can copy another sensitive document.

Large business photocopiers have a physical hard drive, similar to that in a computer. Your home AIO is probably not a problem; smaller home copiers don't have any memory. If anyone hasn't seen it yet, the video attached to the referenced article is an eye openner and should be viewed.

The problem is that this has been going on for years, even before most people worried about personal security. And before most of us had copying capabilities in their homes.

But is it really surprising? Doesn't anyone remember this famous quote from 1999:

The chief executive officer of Sun Microsystems said Monday that consumer privacy issues are a "red herring."
"You have zero privacy anyway," Scott McNealy told a group of reporters and analysts Monday night at an event to launch his company's new Jini technology.
"Get over it."

One of the best things I can suggest is to get a credit freeze with all of the three credit reporting agencies. It may cost small fee, but provides much more security than any other single thing you can to to keep yourself safe from identity thieves, particularly those who are after (and will ruin) your hard-earned credit rating.

I think most people should just invest in an All-in-one printer at home. That way I can print, fax, and copy anything private at my house.

At work, I hate thinking sensitive work stuff is left in the copier, but it is the work copier...

There really is no such thing as "erasing" a hard disk, be it a copier or PC ot DVR etc. The data is just marked as 'deleted'. That's why you can undelete files if they haven't been overwritten yet. Even reformatting usually doesn't do it.

You need a 'wipe' program to actually overwrite the deleted data with nulls or something else. Norton Utilities long ago had such a program. Don't know if it still does.

I stopped using the company copiers at where I work at once I learned that little fact, unless it just company business. This is one way to get employees to use the company resources...

@MasterPo, yes there are plenty of "wipe" programs out there. Even some freeware ones... And they do as you describe in your last sentence...

This has been known for years.

I agree with Robert--don't use the work copier for personal stuff, ever--just get yourself a printer/copier for your home.

Added bonus--you won't forget and leave your sensitive original documents in the copier feeder or on the glass.

This is the most likely form of privacy breach--and it's low tech. I'm always finding employees' personal originals in the copier--including medical, legal, & financial records. I found out one of our students had cancer this way--sad.

So what do you do with the personal all-in-one copier when you decide you need to dispose of it? How do you "wipe" the data from it before recycling, disposing or giving it to someone else to use? I have already had to get rid of one of these because the scanner stopped working.

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