Hard drive security on MFPs -- what you need to know

The modern, digital MFP is a marvel of technology. It combines the features of a scanner, printer, copier and even a fax machine. It can sort and collate, give you one-button scanning directly to your email, and handle straight up copying jobs — all at the same time.

One of the ways this electronic miracle performs all of these features is by offloading jobs onto temporary storage while it processes the current job. That is, if you are scanning a 30-page document, and at the same time your co-worker is printing a 50 page document, the MFP captures that print job and stores it, waiting until the unit is free before it starts printing. Pretty smart, right? This is possible because the modern MFP is really a dedicated computer, with a good deal of processing power — and a hard drive.

Just like the hard drive in your computer. Indeed, it’s the same kind of drive; it’s formatted differently, but mechanically, it’s identical.

Typical copier hard drive
A typical copier hard drive (image from Binary Ingestigative team)
And those images that it processes? Every scan, fax, print and copy? Well they can get stored… for quite some time. In fact, most MFPs don’t start deleting old files until they start to run out of space. That means that literally thousands of images are on the drive at any given time.

In 2010, CBS news raised attention to this security threat with an investigative piece. Their reporters bought three random, off-lease copiers from a wholesaler, and took them to their office. There they had a technician remove the drives, and examine the contents. To their surprise, they found things like police records and even insurance documents, with thousands of bits of personal information. All easily accessible.

You can see the segment here:

At Ameritel, we take security seriously, and that’s why always offer our customers the tools and services necessary to ensure that sensitive data doesn’t get into the wrong hands. Either while our machines are in our customer’s spaces, or after their leases are over. Both Canon and Kyocera offer encryption services with new MFPs, and we offer a certified disk cleansing service to our customers, where we wipe the drive in a method approved by the NSA — ensuring that your confidential information is gone for good.

If you have any questions about adding these features to an existing machine, just call your sales rep, at 301-251-0222, and we’ll be glad to help you find the solution you need.