Monday, April 26, 2010

Can Your Copy Machine Keep a Secret?

Employees copy personal documents, such as tax returns and pay stubs. Doctors copy patient records. Engineers copy designs. Purchasing employees copy contracts and other technical documents. It’s just a part of doing business, so what’s the problem? The potential problem is the hard drive contained in most all digital copy machines manufactured since 2002. Unless your copy machine is equipped with an encryption package or your company arranges to have the hard drive scrubbed, every document that has been copied on the machine could be retrieved.

Many companies lease copy machines. When the lease is up, the machines are returned and sold. Where does the copy machine and your information go? Anywhere it wants to go! Just type “copy machine” in
eBay and you’ll likely find more than 400 copy machines for sale. See the problem? The tax return you copied, your medical records and anything else that is copied could be viewed by anyone who removes that hard drive from the copier. So, what does this have to do with trade compliance? Confidentiality and Export Controls. A customs broker or importer might benefit from purchasing a copier used by a competitor. Think of the interesting client information and company secrets contained on that hard drive. What about export controls? What type of information could be “exported” to the purchasers of your old copy machine? When your leased machine is returned , it may be sold to a foreign company. It could be auctioned on eBay. As trade compliance employees, here are some questions to consider next time you use the copy machine in your office.

1. Does this machine contain an encryption package?
2. Is the hard drive scrubbed?
3. Who has access to the hard drive in this copy machine.
4. Where does the copy machine go when the company no longer uses it?
5. Do we copy sensitive documents on this machine?

HERE for an interesting report by CBS.

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