Brian.oco 0 Posting Whiz

Maybe the guy on those Biz Hubs commercials is right.

Those nefarious multi-function business machines just might be out to get us.

That's the position taken by a North Carolina compuer science professor who says those all-in-one multifunction business machines – the ones that print/ fax/ scan/ and copy -- could be a big security threat for terrorists plotting against the West.

Says Dr. Elva Jones, a Winston-Salem State University professor and chair of WSSU’s computer science department, many of today's digital copiers actually have their own hard drives that store all of the information that's printed, scanned, copied or faxed. If that information gets into the wrong hands, the result could be detrimental to a business.

"I am not aware of any scandalous situations yet of any great magnitude," says Jones, noting that without awareness it’s a matter of time before a controversy arises. "But typically we don't become alert to possible problems until something happens."

He notes that businesses print, scan, copy or fax client-sensitive information (or its own sensitive internal information), all the time without much thought about security risks. However, if the information is saved to a copier's hard drive, the consequences could be huge.

“Imagine the information handled by law firms, banks, accountants, hospitals and research and development firms,” says Jones.

Hard drives are used in printer/copier/fax/scanner machines because they can add to the efficiency of office operations by increasing the speed and traffic on the company's network. In times of heavy traffic, jobs can go to the machine, get stored on the hard drive and processed at a later time, instead of overloading the network.

As popularity and sales of multifunction print/ fax/ scan/ copy machines like Biz Hub increase in business, so should the awareness of the potential security risks, Jones adds.

Jones could be exaggerating the issue. But maybe not. One thing is for sure. The Information Age and the War on Terror appear to be melding a little too quickly for my blood.