Did You Make a Photocopy of Your Tax Return?

If so, a recent report at CBS News offers a cautionary reminder that improper disposal of copy machines may pose a security threat, because the copied images may be stored on the machine's hard drive.  For demonstration purposes, CBS purchased four used, discarded machines:
The results were stunning: from the sex crimes unit there were detailed domestic violence complaints and a list of wanted sex offenders. On a second machine from the Buffalo Police Narcotics Unit we found a list of targets in a major drug raid.

The third machine, from a New York construction company, spit out design plans for a building near Ground Zero in Manhattan; 95 pages of pay stubs with names, addresses and social security numbers; and $40,000 in copied checks.

But it wasn't until hitting "print" on the fourth machine - from Affinity Health Plan, a New York insurance company, that we obtained the most disturbing documents: 300 pages of individual medical records.

Photocopy machine hard drives are supposed to be encrypted or wiped before resale, but obviously such is not being done.  And, as CBS notes -
The day we visited the New Jersey warehouse, two shipping containers packed with used copiers were headed overseas - loaded with secrets on their way to unknown buyers in Argentina and Singapore.

In a related story, during the Cold War, the CIA collaborated with the Xerox Corporation to install a camera inside a machine used at the Soviet embassy.  The project was so successful that dozens more such camera were installed in embassies around the world (embassies of friends and foes).   That fascinating story is recounted at Edit International.

Link, via.

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Yeah, this makes me wonder what I have in my printer/fax/copier. Any device that has that much secondary storage should be clearly marked on the outside. In fact, I dislike very much the idea that anything is "saved" without my permission. A similar thing happens with the silly Windows picture viewer--you make a change to the image (say, rotate from horizontal to vertical), press the button to go to the next image, and it saves your change without either prompting you for permission or telling you that it did it.
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I work at a copy shop and if a customer is copying sensitive materials, I wipe the HD directly after for my own sanity. Peace of mind, yo.
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