See that fancy photo-copier over in the corner of your office. Yes that innocuous paper spitting machine that we all use daily to make copies of everything from confidential memos to last month’s expense report.
Did you know that all that data is also digitally stored in a hard drive inside of the copier?
Did you realize that those same copiers are the weakest link within a corporate network that with the right knowledge can be discovered with the right kind of crafted Google search?
Victor Beitner, a security expert who reconfigures photocopy machines destined for resale in Toronto, says businesses are completely unaware of the potential information security breach when the office photocopier is replaced.
They think the copier is just headed for a junkyard but, in most cases, when the machine goes, so does sensitive data that have been stored on the copier’s hard drive for years.
“If I was the kind of person looking for certain information, this would be a gold mine,” said Beitner, founder of Cyber Security Canada, a security, privacy and threat management company. “People have no clue of what the risks are.”
Of the dozens of multi-purpose copiers Beitner has cleaned out in the past two years, he has seen hundreds of scanned documents that would be considered confidential. As a personal policy, he never reads them, but can easily tell where they are by the file names and sizes.
“In almost all the machines I have seen, the files, phone numbers, fax numbers and email addresses are left there as if it was still in the office,” said Beitner. “There are files from insurance companies, medical facilities, pharmaceutical and regular office-type documents,” he said.
With that in mind you might really want to think twice before pulling some photocopier prank at the next office party.