Most people fail to realize that modern, multi-purpose photocopiers contain hard drives that - if not erased when decommissioned - could prove to be a treasure trove of confidential information for a person who knows how to extract it. Hard copies of important documents are shred and computer disks are securely wiped, but it is rare when the same is done with the drive of the copy machine, because most people don’t think of it as of a computer - which it in fact is. “The whole system is controlled by a computer, it has a hard disk. It scans images and they are stored on the disc,” says a computer science professor with the University of Toronto. That also means that a hacker that knows the password can hack into the photocopier and collect all the data stored on the drive by simply connecting a laptop to the machine and downloading it. Copy machines that are part of an insecure network can be accessed online even by people who don’t know how to hack. But machines that are leased to companies and that are taken back after a few years can do some serious damage to their former “owners.”

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