Friday, May 22, 2015

Xerox scanners/photocopiers randomly alter numbers in scanned documents



scanners / copiers of the Xerox WorkCentre Line randomly alter written numbers in pages that are scanned. This is not an OCR problem (as we switched off OCR on purpose), it is a lot worse – patches of the pixel data are randomly replaced in a very subtle and dangerous way: The scanned images look correct at first glance, even though numbers may actually be incorrect. Without a fuss, this may cause scenarios like:

  1. Incorrect invoices

  2. Construction plans with incorrect numbers (as will be shown later in the article) even though they look right

  3. Other incorrect construction plans, for example for bridges (danger of life may be the result!)

  4. Incorrect metering of medicine, even worse, I think.

The errors are caused by an eight (!) year old bug in widely used WorkCentre and ColorQube scan copier families of the manufacturer Xerox – according to reseller data, hundreds of thousands of those machines are used across the planet. As a result, anyone having used machines of the named families has to ask himself:

  • How many incorrect documents (even though they look correct!) did I produce during the last years by scanning with xerox machines? Did I even give them to others?

  • What dangers are imposed by such possible document errors? Is there a danger of life for someone?

  • Can I be sued for such errors?



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