Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, March 17, 2021

Just when you thought it was safe to Xerox your ass, hard-drive equipped photocopiers are prompting data security concerns:

“Everyone forgets that there’s data in there,” said Avivah Litan, an analyst at Gartner Inc. “Copiers and other intelligent devices like multifunction printers are very exposed in the enterprise. They’re open to attack via modems, and people forget about changing the default passwords.”

Sharp’s survey also indicated that 54% of those polled had no clue that digital photocopiers store an image of what’s duplicated and that a majority believed running off returns on copiers or printers is a safe practice. When told of the security threat posed by unsecured hardware, however, two-thirds of the people surveyed said they were less likely to copy their financial information on a public digital photocopier.

So the call’s gone out to be careful. But how careful do you really need to be? Consider:

- Despite the networking capabilities, how many companies actually have their copiers hooked up to the computing grid? My experience has been that IT departments generally don’t like messing with them, because they’re not “their” equipment. That is, copiers are usually rented, and so are troubleshot/repaired by a third-party — they’re somebody else’s responsibility. So if they’re not connected, there’s no way to hack into them remotely. In the case of a public copier at a library, I suppose a hacker could surreptitiously stick a USB device into the right slot and suck the data out; but it’d be a labor-intensive move from a group that’s more used to sniffing things out over the Internet.

- I’m not clear as to how, exactly, the copied data is saved. I’d think that since this is imaging technology, what these hard drives save are compressed image files like TIFs, even in the case of text-filled documents like tax returns. I seriously doubt the copiers are accomplishing text-recognition OCR conversion, because there’s no point in that for copying/printing purposes. So it’d be incredibly difficult to data-mine such image files, because you couldn’t search/scan through them via keywords. Again, a thief would have to burn a lot of calories just sorting through all that to find Social Security numbers and such.

Both of the above considerations don’t dismiss the possibility of copier-hacking. But it makes it less attractive, especially considering more lucrative targets in the usual insecure data banks.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/17/2007 05:17 PM
Category: Tech
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So, St. Patrick’s Day.

Last night’s freakish snowstorm certainly made it interesting. Thankfully, the weather calmed down enough for a nice green-festooned parade down Fifth Avenue, of which I was able to catch a bit.

Other than that, I think this holiday calls for a rerun of last year’s story of the shamrock and the Christian trinity:

This Plant [white clover] is worn by the People in their Hats upon the 17 Day of March yearly (which is called St. Patrick’s Day.) it being a Current Tradition, that by this Three Leafed Grass, he emblematically set forth to them the Mystery of the Holy Trinity…

Which brings up an interesting point: If the common three-leafed clover symbolizes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, then what does the sought-after four-leafed sprout symbolize? And why should such a blatant departure from Christian symbolism be considered lucky? Theologicially speaking, it should be a shunned pagan offshoot.

I continue to stand by this religious assessment, despite my affinity for all things green. And with that, I think I’ll head out for a Shamrock Shake.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/17/2007 04:23 PM
Category: History, New Yorkin', Weather
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