The Life of Riley: Copies, Copies, Everyone has a Copy

This one started with something I read on Facebook. It got me to wondering, so I did some search and some research. What I discovered is alarming. What is worse, is that no one seems to care.

Yes, it is technology again. Our best friend, our worst enemy. How often do we go to a library or copy store to make a copy. Generally a copy of some tax records or other important papers containing personal information. We make our copes, pick up the original and leave. What do we leave? The digital image of whatever we copied. This image is stored on a hard drive, just like in your computer.

FAX machines also have an optic scanner and hard drive, so they can also pass on your information.

Eventually the hard drive, or the copier, needs to be replaced. The unit is sold, maybe for scrap, maybe to be recycled. Wherever the copier goes, the hard drive lives. Maybe it is wiped clean as the machine is refurbished. Maybe the machine is sold “as is”. Maybe the new owner is buying the hard drive to learn your secrets – to steal your ideas or even your identity, and what a revoltin’ development this is!

Governments at all levels make numerous copies of confidential information. How do they dispose of the machines? The software fix for this problem adds about $500 to the purchase price though.

Think about the people you do business with that make copies of your personal information: Banks, Reality companies, Attorneys, Tax services, hospitals and Doctor’s offices, just to name a few. How many of these people are aware of the potential of the hard drives? Actually, some casual questions around town tells me many weren’t even aware their copiers or FAX machines had hard drives.

The articles I reviewed indicated a lot of used copiers are sold overseas. Wonder if they are paying used equipment prices for our secrets?


Jerry Riley comments for the News Bulletin. He is a retired telecommunications supervisor.