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By Robert Scott, P.I.

Photocopiers can now be added to the list of items leaking personal data, according to the Sharp copier company. The company recently released a security advisory warning that the hard drives on many photocopiers are storing scanned documents -- long after actual copies have been made.

Does this mean that a person who stops by the corner copy shop to copy his income tax form is at risk of his personal information being compromised? Or that anyone with access to the company office machine after hours can do some unauthorized intelligence gathering?

This story was widely circulated on Internet news sites and elsewhere recently. I wanted to learn if this was really true or just an Internet myth, so I made a trip to my local copy shop. There were two basic types of copiers. A Xerox Docucolor and a Canon ImageRunner. I couldn't get anything out of the Xerox. On the Canon, after exploring the various menus and submenus I found my way to a "recall" option where the last three items printed were still available! I picked one and it started printing out 60 copies of an actress's resume! Apparently, that's who had been on the machine before me! So, is there a security flaw on some digital copy machines? Apparently so!

Robert Scott is a Los Angeles-based private investigator and author of "The Investigator's Little Black Book." Reprint permission.


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