Hidden Data, Hidden Risk
Most businesses don’t consider copy machines when planning for secure data policies. Office workers of all levels simply aren’t trained to think of a copy machine as a data storage device, as even most home copiers come with a small hard drive. Robust business copiers are certain to have storage capability because they are, in essence, a computer. Storing the scan of a document makes copy work more efficient; workers can program complex jobs, can scan documents for copies while previous jobs are still running, and don’t have to redo entire jobs when jams occur.
Copiers and Data Security Risks
Efficiency comes with a price. According to the owner of a copier leasing company in California, two-thirds of machines leased to businesses such as accountants or hospitals are returned with an intact hard drive. Copy machines store images that can include driver’s licenses, a myriad of forms, and company financial statements. Failure to destroy or wipe hard drives on copy machines can result in data breaches.
In August 2013, Affinity Health Plan settled a compliance claim with the federal government after the plan failed to wipe copier data. The breach exposed over half a million records and cost the company $1.2 million in fines and compensation.
Creating Secure Data Copier Policies
You can avoid data security risks due to copier hard drives by following a few simple rules.
- Ensure copy machines are part of your compliance and document security procedures so no one forgets about the hard drives.
- Treat your business copier like a electronic filing cabinet similar to HR and client files.Request information about data security options, such as encryption, on the device. Select security that is appropriate for your organization.
- Some copiers have an overwrite option that lets you clear the cache of data on the drive. Schedule a time each month for a specific individual or department to be responsible for overwriting the drive.
- Discuss options for securing the hard drive with the leasing company or manufacturer. When you return the copier, ensure the hard drive is wiped, destroyed, or returned to your company.
- If you own your copier and are ready to retire it, consider shredding the hard drive as it will absolutely destroy any sensitive information.
How do you secure data hidden in your business copiers?