According to a survey held by SHARP in 2008 that "60% of Americans don’t know that copiers store images on hard drives" and with a report from CBS NEWS about "Copy Machine, Security Risk?" released, the potential risk of copy machines come onto surface. A journalist spent 300$ for each used copier and bought four used ones and found that each copy machine is equipped with a hard drive. What's more, thousands copies of highly private papers concerning medical, insurance and salary record are found from those hard drives. The news was really astonishing and shocked everyone who has read the report.
How copy machines eat the privacy?
Nearly every digital copier no matter what brands (Xerox, Canon, TOSHIBA, HP) built after 2002 contains a hard drive. Like one of your personal computers, it stores image of every documents, scan, copy or email by the machine. The initial design aims to speed up the copy and print processes. When each page of the original work passes over the copy surface, the photocopier scans a digital image of the work using a so-called digital scanner. Depending on the quality of the copier machines, the digital scan may take from about one second to almost half a minute. Although some very high-end copiers can copy one or more pages a second, most copiers process about one page every five to ten seconds. And those high-end copy machines are most likely to attach hard drives. Once the digital image is scanned, it may be manipulated to comply with controls set by the user. After the image is scanned in to memory and manipulated to the user's preference, it is ready to be printed. But keep in mind, after you finish the copy or print work, the information you dealt with is still kept on the copier hard drive by means of images. This is why the copy machines may eat your private information even without your permission.
Will delete or format erase the private information on copy machine hard drive?
Since you have known that copy machine can eat your privacy, you may wonder if it is possible to take out the hard drive and erase the data by means of deletion or format. Before answering this question, allow me to interrupt a piece of information from CBS NEWS. It reported that SHARP would charge you additional 500$ if you wanted to erase the stored image information on each of its copy machines. Leave out the price you may have to pay, I am wondering how the stuff working on copy machine industry erase those highly private information, by talking the drive out and connect to a computer then delete the private information directly or format the whole drive? Will delete or format erase the information on the hard drive permanently? I doubt that. If you have some knowledge of data recovery, you should know deleted or formatted information can be recovered from hard drives with file recovery software, or more specific by a photo recovery tool to recover photos as the scanned information is stored in form of photos.
How to protect your information free from copy machine risks
When you have realized the potential security risks of copy machines, here are a few personal tips to protect your privacy safe while need to use copy machines.
1. Don't copy or print the paper containing precious information or privacy outside of your home or company.
2. Better not use leased copy machines. If have to, make sure your important information are erased permanently from the copier hard drive before deadline.
3. If possible, try to use some low-level copy machines without hard drives.
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