For many computer users who are getting rid of an old computer, they are aware that they have to either wipe their data or store it securely before they throw away or sell their computer.
There is another piece of office equipment that people seem to be forgetting about or don’t even know about that also has opened up a dangerous hole in data security.
Most copy machines have been installed with hard drives and users have no idea that whatever they make a copy of can be stored there and be retrieved by anyone.
Every time you use a copier machine you should know that it comes with the responsibility of keeping your data secure.
In some cases, you may run personal information through a machine when you bill a client or for internal documents.
When you get to the level of medical or financial records you’re talking about people’s social security numbers and other forms of data that can lead to identity theft.
Page by page, your important forms and documents are getting stored on a hard drive year after year.
In recent years, a CBS News investigation uncovered a warehouse in New Jersey, where people can buy copiers for a large discount.
Many of the copy machines in the warehouse were packed with thousands of digital impressions of sensitive documents including police sex crime reports, pay stubs with social security numbers, and medical records.
I know that you’re probably wondering how easy it is to remove a hard drive from a copier!
Pretty much anyone who knows how to use a screwdriver can easily remove a copier’s hard drive in minutes.
It’s not uncommon for there to be up to 20,000 documents on a copier, so the cost to a company that has a data breach related to one of these hard drives could be astronomical.
Responsible companies will erase hard drives before reselling copying machines.
Simply erasing a hard drive and keeping the same hard drive in the machine could pose security risks.
If your company or organization has data that is top secret/sensitive information or data that contains (PII), it is very important to make sure that the hard drives are erased and replaced before the copier is sold to another business.
Degauss And Destroy Your Hard Drives
The best way to ensure that sensitive information that has gone through your copier is to degauss and destroy your hard drives.
Degauss or Degaussing is the process of demagnetizing an object.
In this sense, it would be the hard drive that gets degaussed or demagnetized.
The reason that you need to demagnetize your hard drive is that all of your data is saved in the magnetic field of the hard drive platters.
Even if you delete files or use a program to erase or overwrite files, your data is still retrievable.
Hard drive degaussers come in a few shapes and sizes.
There are degaussing wands that are handheld tools that demagnetize HDD’s to erase them.
There are also degaussing machines that you can drop a hard drive into, push a button, and wipe a hard drive in seconds.
Some Last Points…
Any machine that contains a hard drive should have the hard drive erased and replaced before that machine is resold to another person or organization.
Copy machines often contain every type of sensitive information such as banking information, social security numbers, medical records, and trade secrets.
If you haven’t assessed the security risks in your business, then it might be time to use a security checklist to make sure that a data breach won’t happen to you.