Bob Rankin: Is the Office Copier Telling Your Secrets?


By Bob Rankin

Photocopier dealers report an appalling array of sensitive data left on copier hard drives when they’re traded in or delivered for repairs. Birth certificates; Social Security Numbers; bank account statements with the account numbers plainly displayed; income tax forms; customer lists; and more. That kind of information would be very valuable to competitors or identity thieves.

In a recent security experiment, CBS News accompanied John Juntunen to a New Jersey warehouse in which used photocopiers were stored. Juntunen owns Digital Copier Security, a firm which tries to alert copier owners to security vulnerabilities and offer solutions. I say “tries” because, as Juntunen told CBS, “Nobody wants to step up and say, ‘we see the problem, and we need to solve it.”

Juntunen picked four used copiers based on the number of copies they had printed, a number conveniently displayed on the console of each machine. He paid a total of about $1,200 for them. Then he took them back to his shop to see what information he could retrieve from their hard drives. The results were startling.

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