It’s a conundrum that frustrates leaders and organizations large and small. The media, led by customer demand, focuses resources on the crisis of the day. Aside from preventing terrorists plots, rarely do outlets produce stories that applaud an organization’s crisis prevention efforts. Today I’m here to share how our Collin County government has prevented the biggest data breach in its history. It begins with copy machines.
Office copy machines manufactured within the last 10-15 years come with a standard hard drive that stores all copies, faxes, scans and prints in a permanent electronic state. CBS News conducted an investigation in 2010 and found that copiers present a significant security risk, opening up citizens to identity theft and privacy violations.
CBS discovered that hard drives with 20,000 plus documents can be removed from machines in seconds and contents viewable in minutes. Depending on the organization, documents accessed contained social security numbers, medical records with personally identifiable information, design plans, pay stubs, domestic violence records and more.
Collin County is currently auctioning off over 100 used copiers from the courthouse and other administration buildings through Rene Bates Auctioneers, Inc. where businesses can get an excellent deal. A reader alerted TSB about the potential data breach, but we can all rest assured. Koby Phillips, the county employee in charge of the copiers up for auction told TSB that all hard drives were removed prior to being placed in the auction.
Kudos to our county government for being aware of the security risk and taking action. You prevented a crisis that could have rippled for years. Can you imagine the contents within the hundreds of thousands of courthouse documents stored on the drives since 2006?
Let us hope other organizations selling used copiers are just as familiar with the security implications. Meanwhile, the copier auction closes at Noon on Thursday.