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I have a dead tree document. In order to reduce the risk of being compromised, I would like to digitize and encrypt the document, and then destroy the physical copy.

Let's assume my computer itself is secure (since if not, this discussion becomes moot). Let's further allow that I am very paranoid and suspect the scanner as the weak link in the chain.

Is it common for scanners to somehow cache or log documents they scan (on the scanner machine itself)? Does scanner driver/software often have temporary folders which end up leaving a trace of the document? Can a networked scanner maliciously or accidentally distribute the file to third parties (over the LAN/WAN or the internet)?

What steps can be realistically taken to minimize the risk?

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    There is no precise answer to this question in my opinion, each scanner is different. – Ulkoma Sep 3 '14 at 11:18
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You are somehow thinking that dead tree docs are less secure than digital copies. I may venture to say you are mistaken in this belief.

Digital data may be stolen in a myriad different ways. The scanner may be reporting to HP or other companies/agencies, while your computer may be already compromised. Your computer will have vestigial data on the hard drive. Use of encryption may warrant unwanted attention.

Last, but not least: you can lose a digital copy much easier than the original. All it takes is one inopportune kick to the hard drive or static discharge, or simply a forgotten password. To overcome this, you will be forced to make multiple backups, store the password somewhere etc. etc.

If you are really intent on digitizing the document, take a fresh memory card for your camera and make a few photos. Stash the card somewhere secure.

  • I disagree on the security bit, but your recommendation to use a camera instead is very good idea. I'd +1 if I had the rep, but since the question is not asking for alternatives, I'll hold off on accepting for now. – Artimithe55 Sep 3 '14 at 13:49
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    While you are being paranoid, is your camera or memory card secure? They both could have wifi embedded and be uploading too. – JamesRyan Sep 3 '14 at 15:53
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Is it common for scanners to somehow cache or log documents they scan (on the scanner machine itself)?

Yes, probably nearly all which aren't specially designed to be hightly confidential

Does scanner driver/software often have temporary folders which end up leaving a trace of the document?

Yes also.

Can a networked scanner maliciously or accidentally distribute the file to third parties (over the LAN/WAN or the internet)?

Also, but the main concern will be the networks in themselve. All data that transit throught network can be be intercepted, and if the person is motivated enough decrypted.

Deerhunter solution is good, the point being "Is it really more convinient to hide a memory stick than a sheet of paper."

  • Images can be recovered from internal buffers. To increase security, I would buy a cheap USB scanner, unplug the computer from the network, scan the document, followed by scanning a number of blank pages (to fill or overwrite the buffer). Turn the scanner off, unplug the USB connection. Then plug the computer back into the network. – schroeder Sep 3 '14 at 19:13
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Many copy machines and all-in-one scan/print/copy/fax machines (especially from HP) have internal hard drives they use for temporary storage. It's been in the news from time to time that people have recovered sensitive data from these drives, either using data-recovery software or by simply reading the drive filesystem.

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