Photocopier Hard Drive Security - Are You at Risk? - Midshire
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Photocopier Hard Drive Security – Are You at Risk?

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Photocopier Hard DriveToday, businesses are all too aware of the importance of protecting data. With the introduction of GDPR in May 2018, companies are going to be even more accountable for how they obtain, store and use personal client data.

With regular stories in the media regarding data breaches at some of the world’s biggest and well-known businesses, companies are ever more aware of the need to secure their business IT system and devices including: laptops, desktops, mobiles and servers. However, did you know that the inconspicuous photocopier sat in the corner of your office could be a data security issue?

Nearly every digital photocopier manufactured since 2002 contains a hard drive. Like the one in your computer, it stores an image of every document that is scanned, copied, or emailed by the machine. The photocopier hard drive is required in-order to store and process the large amounts of data that is taken in by the device.

If you don’t take the appropriate steps to protecting this data, it can be stolen from the hardware, either by remote access through your Wi-Fi or business network, or by extracting the data from the hard drive once removed from the device.

Before you think “well, I never use a photocopier, so my data isn’t at risk”, think of all the businesses that do have access to your data – accountants, lawyers, doctors, banks… the list is never ending, and if they don’t have processes in place, your data is at risk.

Examples of breaches

In 2010, a CBS investigation went to a warehouse in New Jersey which sold used photocopiers, to see what data could be extracted from the hard-drives. One of the devices had 300 pages of individual medical records, from prescriptions through to cancer diagnoses. Imagine what could happen if this information got into the wrong hands?

Companies that fail to wipe their photocopier’s hard-drives can face huge fines.
In 2013, US company Affinity Health Plan paid $1.2million to settle a breach that affected 344,557 individuals, whose data was on the hard-drives of machines returned to their leasing company.

Leased photocopiers

The majority of photocopiers in offices today are leased, meaning that at the end of the lease they are returned to the local dealer, to be sold on to another company. The transient nature of photocopiers is what makes hard-drive security a huge issue. Knowing what to do with your photocopier’s hard-drive when you have finished with it is critical. Knowing what your supplier is does with is even more essential.

When equipment is returned to Midshire, we automatically, (unless the customer advises otherwise) wipe every machine’s hard-drive to ensure all customer information is erased. This ensures that all your data remains confidential when we dispose of or re-sell the equipment.

Steps you can take to protect your copier’s hard-drive

1. If you have chosen a second-hand photocopier, make sure the device has no data on it when it arrives. You don’t want to be responsible for having the confidential data of the previous owner stored on your device.

2. Implement a policy which ensures that you regularly delete or format any unnecessary information stored on your copier hard-drives, perhaps on a monthly basis, to limit your liability for data breaches.

3. Limit users’ accessibility. Most companies don’t allow every user to have access to all company files and server folders, and your photocopier should be no different. You should implement protocols so that employees can’t access or re-print documents, that they wouldn’t have access to on their PC.

4. Turn on data-encryption on your device. Most photocopiers today have the option to turn on data-encryption, this refers to the use of data that can only be read by the particular software used by the photocopier. While this isn’t fool proof, it adds a level of security that will prevent someone from removing the hard-drive and using the data.

5. If you own the photocopier outright, make sure that your IT team wipes the hard-drive when you come to upgrading the device.

If you are concerned about your photocopier’s hard-drive, why not get in touch with our team? We’ll be happy to talk you through the best steps for your business to ensure that your photocopier is not at risk of a data breach.