YOU NEED TO KNOW: Beware of Digital Photocopiers

I just read an article at 404 Tech Support that is very important and is something YOU NEED TO KNOW!  The article, “Photocopiers, an Identity Theft Goldmine” (with an informational video) really caught my attention.  With my background in IT and computers, the article made me come up with my own spin on all of this.

The reason the article caught my attention, and believe me I am very security conscious, is that I recently went to a local business establishment to make copies of important documents that contained sensitive information in regards to my privacy. I never once thought about whether my privacy or information could be compromised by using a copy machine. Like most people, my priority at the time was that I needed the copies to meet a timeline.

Folks, after reading the article at 404 Tech Support (and watching the video) be wary of digital photo copiers. If you use a public outlet to make copies, I would be questioning their security practices and ask “Is this a digital copier?” and if it is, ask “What are you doing to protect my privacy?”

YOU NEED TO KNOW: that many of the modern digital photocopiers have a built in hard drive that has the ability to harvest (and store) the documents you copy; that the documents you copy can literally be archived on that hard drive for a very, very, long time; that the documents you copy could literally be reproduced (stolen) and sold; that many photocopiers can now be connected to a network and data can be moved to/from the copier; that your copied documents could be at risk if the copier is moved to another location or sold…

Believe me, if you read the article at 404 Tech Support and follow the links, you will think twice about making those personal copies at work that you are not supposed to be making…

Am I being too parenoid?  Let me know…  Comments are always welcomed!


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18 thoughts on “YOU NEED TO KNOW: Beware of Digital Photocopiers

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    1. Adrian,

      Many people do copy at home with a multifunction printer; however, large copy jobs can be time consuming and costly (due to the cost of ink); plus if you get into double sided copying and/or legal size documents, then you really get into a frustrating situation.



  1. Terrific topic. Seen it many places around the web lately, but your article really brings it home and “personalizes” it. I am sure many will “relate”!

    I hope many will think, too.

    And, no, you are not making too much of this.
    Consider: one thing this “topic buzz” has done is alert all the amateur thieves, “hey! There’s a target for you!” and while the owner of the establishment may be entirely scrupulous, and have good security, etc., his store may get burglarized, or a tech he hires to maintain the machine might not be so scrupulous, etc. (I remind you of the ATM repairman incident of last month [or so]).


    1. TechPaul,

      Seems like anything that has the term “digital” in front of it we need to be wary of. When I was writing this, my thoughts is exactly what you are mentioning (e.g. the tech who is hired to work on the machine, etc…). I will bet my socks that many of the owners who possess a digital copier (with the hard drive) are totally unaware of these capabilities and risks.

      Thanks for your support on this!



  2. Rick,
    You’re right to be concerned…so am I. Not only is there an exposure to personal information in the disposal and re-lease of the equipment, but many digital copiers are network-ready. As you know, that means a cyber-crook could access the copier and its hard drive. Something tells me the retail copying stores don’t have a state-of-the-art security architecture to thwart an attack either.


    1. Something tells me the retail copying stores don’t have a state-of-the-art security architecture..

      I about blew my soda through my nose. The Art of the Well-crafted Understatement is a beautiful thing to witness. Nicely done.

      I wonder.. as many banks are now able to elude liability if they can say you should have protected your login better.. what exactly the copy store owner’s liability would be if he were found culpable via negligence (improperly securing his network, i.e.)?


      1. TechPaul,
        Thanks, hope you survived your reaction to the “well crafted understatement”.

        I’m not sure how this will play out legally for the copy store owners. It will probably take a suit by someone damaged by the information stored on the copier to determine how liable the copy store owners are.

        Thanks for the reply to my comment.


  3. Rick,

    I never thought about this until I saw the video and article you sent me. How many people make copies of their taxes? Lots I’d say. Tha has it all — address, ss#, income, formal name, and more. Makes you think twice. Thanks for sending to me. Buck


    1. Buck,

      Welcome… Exactly what you are saying could happen. Tax time is also probably one of the busiest times for people to use photocopiers. It definitely made me think twice.



  4. We can be sure and bet that a perp will retain personal info in their copiers and use that for future ransom or blackmail.
    Hey Rick, how come WOMP have Google ads?


  5. @Pochp, Rick,

    WP Blogs do have adds – I have then all over the place on my site. I see ads on your site Rick, frequently.

    From the WordPress the Features You’ll Love page: To support the service we may occasionally show Google text ads on your blog, however we do this very rarely.

    Ads can be removed from a blog if a yearly fee is paid.



  6. The story about copier hard drives is partially true. With the right software and access to the drive it may be possible to get at a copy of some of the material on the hard drive. What needs to be understood is the hard drive is helping to spool the print job and the information on the drive is it a print spool mode or a scanned image mode,,,these are not formats that are readily read by just anyone. The relevant question in your comment was “what are you doing about security?”. The manufacturers provide add ons which permit encryption of everything written in the copier and also which give the means to clear the drives when the unit is resold or decommissioned. There are certainly copiers out there that have data on them, but as newer ones get into the market there will be less ability to access anything on them.


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