I've got a hard drive
in my copier? With a digital copy of everything anyone has copied?
Our message involves mostly a security problem, but there
is a court ESI evidence possibility that litigation attorneys should understand. You
might want to be proactive and protective of your clients
C tell your client about the
significant security threat to their confidential information we describe below.
Almost all MFP=s
(copy machines, fax machines, Copy/Scan/Print/Fax devices, aka Multi-Function
Peripheral, aka Multifunction Printer) manufactured since 2002 contain a hard
drive, storing an electronic image of every document copied or scanned on that machine,
together with the metadata on when the operation was done and other data about
Ergo, if your litigation adversary has not removed the hard drive data from the copier,
fax machine, or other MFP, you might find evidence in the electronically stored
information (ESI) that resides there.
Depending on the size of the hard drive, and how much the
copier/fax/scanner is used, it could be years before data is
overwritten to the point that it cannot be retrieved by you
C or by criminals. That=
s a security problem when you or your client either sell a used MFP or use a public copy machine.
Want to learn more about the security problem that also is a
civil case evidence chance? See the CBS news report this still is available on
YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iC38D5am7go
The chances are small that something has been
copied or faxed that is not otherwise discoverable in a computer hard drive or
paper file. Remember, what we are talking about is only a digital copy of an
otherwise existing original document that was additionally copied, scanned, or
faxed. Chances are huge that the original document is going to show up in
other discovery responses. (Remember, you are not the CIA, doing a
clandestine sweep for evidence.)
The small chance of finding something new suggests that
litigation attorneys probably do not want to routinely insist that all printers,
copiers, and fax machines be taken out of use until a forensic copy has been
made of their hard drives. In the usual case in litigation, such a request is
too unlikely to produce something new. In addition, pulling printers and copiers
and fax machines out of service pending forensic examination is expensive and
disruptive. Plus what you demand your adversary quarantine for forensic
examination will probably result in your adversary demanding your client do the
Still C in those
cases, or unusual cases where the mere fact that a document was copied, scanned
or faxed is important, such as a fired employee suspected of making faxing
copies of confidential papers to his home, you need to be aware of the evidence
that may be in MFP= s.
There are three basic methods of removing data from an office
copier or fax machine: the high tech method, the long wait method, and the blunt
The high tech method involves using a software program
designed to completely erase a drive. Some manufacturers offer a utility
to clean the hard drive, but others want to sell you their service to do
The long wait method involves hoping that as your
machine randomly overwrites hard drive space over the years, anything
confidential will be overwritten and thereby erased.
The blunt approach is to take the hard drive out, and use a
hammer to smash the hard drive, with its electronic bits and
bytes, into physical bits and pieces!
Do you, and your client, use any of those methods before selling
the office copier or fax machine?
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