Local News

Digital copiers now carry security concerns

Posted May 17, 2010 4:27 p.m. EDT
Updated May 17, 2010 7:32 p.m. EDT

— The digital world makes it easy to create, save and share documents and information, but it also makes it easier for that information to fall into the wrong hands.

A recent CBS News investigation is drawing attention to a new security concern regarding documents still found on old digital copy machines.

Mike Upchurch, with Business Machines, Inc., says making simple copies changed 10 years ago when copier manufactures came out with "scan-once-print-many" technology that would let a user scan a document once, save the document image into the copier's memory and then recall the copy job later.

It is possible to buy an old copier that has the hard drive intact and documents still on it, but getting at those documents is not as easy as it sounds, Upchurch said.

"There's a lot of what-if's that have to be addressed before they're going to get to the data -- and then, are they going to have data that's readable?" he said.

The CBS News investigation prompted state IT officials to send a memo to state government agencies, reminding them to erase memory before getting rid of office equipment.

At Wake County libraries, public copiers don't have hard drives because of security concerns.

At Fed Ex Office, which used to be FedEx Kinko's, a spokeswoman says it keeps security software on its machines to protect data.

Upchurch says security is a big problem in the digital world but that the general public shouldn't worry too much about what they are leaving behind on a public copier.

He says copy machine makers are taking security seriously and that many digital copiers come with sophisticated software to protect and encrypt scanned images.

"There's a legitimate concern, but not a worry," he said.