Photocopiers: The newest ID theft threat
Newer models have hard drives that record what has been duplicated
Computerworld - Photocopiers are the newest threat to identity theft, a copier maker said today, because newer models equipped with hard drives record what's been duplicated. At tax time, when Americans photocopy tax returns, confidential information may be easily available to criminals.
"Consumers and business owners will photocopy highly confidential tax forms containing Social Security numbers, employer identification numbers and other sensitive information in places outside the home, leaving them vulnerable to digital theft," Ed McLaughlin, president of Sharp Document Solutions Company of America, said in a statement.
At issue are the hard drives embedded in most copiers and intelligent printers manufactured in the past five years. Data is stored on the drive before a document is copied or printed; unless security provisions are in place, the data is stored unencrypted and remains there until the drive is full and new data overwrites old.
Sharp, a major copier maker, commissioned a survey that found 55% of Americans plan to photocopy or print out copies of their tax returns and supporting documents this year. And almost half of that number will do so outside the home, using copiers and intelligent printers at their offices or public machines at libraries and copy centers.
"Everyone forgets that there's data in there," said Avivah Litan, an analyst at Gartner Inc. "Copiers and other intelligent devices like multifunction printers are very exposed in the enterprise. They're open to attack via modems, and people forget about changing the default passwords."
Sharp's survey also indicated that 54% of those polled had no clue that digital photocopiers store an image of what's duplicated and that a majority believed running off returns on copiers or printers is a safe practice. When told of the security threat posed by unsecured hardware, however, two-thirds of the people surveyed said they were less likely to copy their financial information on a public digital photocopier.
"I've not heard of any cases of ID theft [from photocopiers]," said Litan. "But there is certainly ID theft in public places like Internet cafes and from kiosks, so I don't see why it couldn't happen at someplace like a Kinko's."
Sharp was one of the first photocopier makers to offer a security kit that encrypts data on the hard drive and "shreds" each copied document by overwriting the image after it's printed. Rival Xerox Corp. introduced similar features on its machines last year.
"We've told enterprises that they should change the password from the default on copiers and [multifunction printers]," said Litan. "They should disable all services that they don't need and make sure that the data modem is separate from the fax modem."
Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Mobile Policy Checklist Here's what to consider when putting together a mobile policy designed to support a highly productive workforce.
- Securing BYOD Mobile computing is becoming so ubiquitous that people no longer bat an eye seeing someone working two devices simultaneously. Individuals and organizations are...
- Gartner Report: A Guide to Gartner's Enterprise Mobile Security Self-Assessment Gartner introduces a model and a Toolkit intended to help mobility and security IT leaders assess their enterprise mobility programs from a security...
- Gartner Report: Containing Mobile Security Risks With the 80/20 Rule IT planners can deliver better mobile protection with higher user satisfaction by segmenting users into risk groups before committing to specific management or...
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Endpoint Backup & Restore: Protect Everyone, Everywhere Arek Sokol from the bleeding-edge IT team at Genentech/Roche explains how he leverages cross-platform enterprise endpoint backup in the public cloud as part...
- Streamline Software Asset Management, Compose a software Management Symphony Keeping track of your organization's software is easy with effective software management solutions from CDW. View the videos in our software solutions channel
- Druva inSync: Endpoint Data Protection & Governance CLICK HERE to watch this video about protecting corporate data on laptops and mobile devices, sponsored by Druva. All Security White Papers | Webcasts