We use copiers in our everyday life, but what many of us don’t know is the risk we are taking. Copiers are found almost anywhere: in most businesses, doctor offices, and even in our homes. But what some people don’t know is that many copiers store scanned information - such as social security numbers, credit and numbers and personal medical history - just like computers do. We need to educate and protect ourselves from this risk. Many people think a copier is just a device that copies and prints, but today’s digital copier does all that and more. The digital copier is actually more like a computer, complete with a hard drive and scanner, as well as networking and web server capabilities. It also has a very complex operating system that can email and store documents. According to the website of Digital Copier Security, a business dedicated to securing information on copiers, “Beginning in 2002, nearly every copier used in business contains one, or more, hard drives that are capable of storing all kinds of data. Most digital copiers in service today store an image of every copy, scan and print job. Although it may be stored in a proprietary language or encrypted, once a hacker breaks this code, it is possible to gain access to your data.” This site goes on to explain some copiers don’t even need to be hacked to get the data off them. With a simple press of a few buttons, the copier will print the documents left on the drive. This might all seem harmless, but we need to rethink what we are using, particularly when these machines hold sensitive and personal information that can wreak havoc if put in the wrong hands. Today, identity theft is a big problem and 56% of it occurs from an unknown source. So is this unknown source from copiers? Maybe. There are many people in the field of identity theft who think that much of the unidentified identity theft sources might be from copiers. We don’t know for sure, but we need to find out where this huge percentage is coming from and try to fix it. Many people use copiers everyday to copy important documents, some of which we would like to keep private. Imagine going to your tax advisor and having your taxes done. He photocopies your banking information, stocks and bonds accounts, W-2 forms, home loan, and other assets. Along with this, he copies your taxes when he is done. This is an identity theft nightmare. All your information and identity is waiting to be accessed from the copier. For some, the temptation may be all too great to take that personal information and steal another's livelihood.
Many people are victims of identity theft, and the numbers increase every day. Identity theft has been the top consumer complaint to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) for 5 years. The average victim spends an average of 44 hours and $500 to repair damage to their credit. Banks lose on average $4,800 per identity victim. In a recent CBS story, investigators found financial records, including an IRA application, for a woman. When the investigators showed her and her husband, the couple couldn't believe what they had. "They have the address, the social security number. They have the date of birth, I mean it's ridiculous," the husband said as he looked at all the documents they recovered.
Computer forensics is the science of finding hidden and left behind data. According to the book Computer Forensics for Dummies, “[Copiers] can not only make copies but also act as a network printer, network storage device, and fax – it can even archive every single copy ever made on it.” If it archives everything it copies and stores it on a hard drive, then that means that anyone who has forensic tools can easily get the data off this drive -- and some forensics tools are free and/or easy to gain access to. (Even though some people use these tools for bad, there is a lot of good that comes from computer forensics, such as restoring deleted data that can help with police