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The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, has tips for businesses on how to safeguard sensitive data stored on the hard drives of digital copiers.  Here are the highlights of the FTC’s new publication, Copier Data Security: A Guide for Businesses: 

  • Before acquiring a copier, plan to have the information technology staff manage and maintain it just as they would a computer or a server.
  • When buying or leasing a copier, evaluate your options for securing the data on its hard drive – including the encryption or overwriting features that will be used.  Encryption scrambles the data on the hard drive so it can only be read by particular software.  This ensures that even if the hard drive is removed from the machine, the data cannot be retrieved.  Overwriting – also known as file wiping or shredding – replaces the existing data with random characters, so that the file cannot be easily reconstructed.
  • Take advantage of all of the copier’s security features.  Securely overwrite the entire hard drive at least once a month.  
  • When returning or disposing of a copier, find out whether it is possible to have the hard drive removed and destroyed, or to overwrite the data on the hard drive.  Generally, it is advisable for a skilled technician to remove the hard drive to avoid the risk of rendering the machine inoperable.

For more information about securing sensitive data, see Protecting Personal
 Information:  A Guide for Business.

The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. Watch a new video, How to File a Complaint, at ftc.gov/video to learn more. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by more than 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

(FYI copier data security) 

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