Photocopy Machines in the Office may have your Personal Data

Published in: privacy

If you have a photocopier in your office that you and your colleagues have been using for years to make paper copies of important documents, here’s an important fact that may surprise some of you.

Photocopiers Have a Hard-Disk

Most photo copy machines, and even the newer all-in-one print-copy-scan-fax machines, have a built-in hard drive that stores a digital image of nearly every document that’s copied or scanned through these machines.

The machines store this information to improve performance. If you want ten carbon-copies, the machine would scan the document only once, store the scan in the memory and then print copies from the memory directly.

If a fraudster manages to pull out the disk from the photocopier, it can be real “goldmine” as he’ll probably find everything there from employee credit card numbers to resumes to faxes and much more.

Before you Sell that old Photocopier

Your data is probably safe as long as the copier machine is inside the office building but in case you are planning to sell the machine, or send it for repair, make sure everything is wiped off from the hard-drive.

The exact procedure on how to erase the on-board memory may vary for every manufacturer but the logic is simple.

You won’t sell your laptop on eBay without erasing the contents of the hard-drive – the photocopier may have even more sensitive information since everyone in the office was using that one machine and that too for ages.

Related: The Problem with Document Shredders

Thank you Chris Lyons for the tip.

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Published in: privacy

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Meet the Author

Web Geek, Google Developer Expert
Amit Agarwal

Amit Agarwal is a Google Developer Expert in Google Workspace and Google Apps Script. He holds an engineering degree in Computer Science (I.I.T.) and is the first professional blogger in India. He is the developer of Mail Merge for Gmail and Document Studio. Read more on Lifehacker and YourStory

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