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Xerox Advises Securing Data In Printer Hard Drives

Network printer and MFP hard drives may contain sensitive data that can be secured using encryption or overwriting.

"The risk is that after a job is done, MARCed and printed, there may be some residual data left behind associated with that job," says Kovnak. And, as with computers, even if the system "deletes" a file, that doesn't actually remove file contents, just frees up those spaces on the disk for re-use, so if a large print job that contains sensitive data is followed by a smaller print job, some sensitive data might still be on the drive.

Also, Kovnak points out, "Some of our more complex devices let users store jobs for later reprinting, or to hold the job until the user arrives and requests the file" (so that it won't be sitting around where an unauthorized person can read or take it).

As with computers, says Kovnak, there are two ways to counteract the risk of that data being accessible: "Encryption, which protects the data while it's still in use, and overwriting, after a job is done."

How can you tell if your printer or MFP could have data at risk?

"It's hard to tell just by looking whether a device has a disk," Kovnat points out. "If it's a device you already own, you have to check the product description. SMBS can the vendor representative."

According to Kovnat, many Xerox devices include both encryption and overwrite. "The encryption feature in most of our devices is enabled by default; the overwrite is not enabled by default," says Kovnat. "For most of our products, they're now standard, but they may not be turned on."

Xerox also offers data security features that can be downloaded, for some machines -- but, he cautions, "for older products -- ones introduced five or more years ago -- these features may not be available."

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