That’s because most digital photocopies used by businesses have internal hard drives that save scans of every copy made. Yet when a business gets rid of the copier, they rarely ever wipe the machine’s internal hard drives. This means the next person that acquires that copier–or just gets access to its hard drive, can potentially clean an untold amount of sensitive documents and other information, reports CBS News. The news organization worked with a security software company to see just what kind of information they could get from digital copiers they bought second-hand at random. The results were horrifying:
[On a copier once owned by a police] 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. They included everything from drug prescriptions, to blood test results, to a cancer diagnosis. A potentially serious breach of federal privacy law.
The lesson here to businesses: Wipe your digital copier hard drives before getting rid of the machines.