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Censorship Encryption

Canon Blocks Copy Jobs Using Banned Keywords 309

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-isn't-that-helpful dept.
aesoteric notes that a future version of Canon's document management system will include the exciting breakthrough technology that will OCR your printed and scanned documents, and prevent distribution of keywords. Documents containing the offending words can be sent to the administrator, without actually telling the user just what word tripped the alarm. The article notes that simply using 1337 for example will get around it.
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Canon Blocks Copy Jobs Using Banned Keywords

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  • How Long... (Score:5, Funny)

    by citoxE (1799926) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @08:20PM (#33878070)
    How long until making photocopies of your butt becomes a thing of the past?
  • I guess they thought, "Well, it is no worse than IBM selling equipment to the Germans during World War II!"
  • All a publisher would have to do is to embed a code or passphrase or optical pattern on the pages of their copyrighted publication and then arrange with manufacturers such as Canon or Xerox not to duplicate those pages. The pattern could be a watermark in the background of the content, defeating attempts to obscure it with a post-it not or some such.

    I predict a huge demand for older, dumber photocopiers.

    • by socsoc (1116769)
      This is set up by a local admin, it's not global prevention on every machine they produce. Although copying US currency will usually result in bizarre output, it isn't the same.
  • Social Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rockNme2349 (1414329) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @08:32PM (#33878162)

    You're doing it wrong. If there's anything I've learned in dealing with people, it is never try to create a technical solution to a social problem. If someone wants to make a copy of some secret document, they will quickly learn that the copiers have this software installed and will use a different machine. You need to figure out why they would want to make copies of something you don't want them to, and solve that problem. I could see this being marginally useful for preventing accidental release of information, however the article seems to state that they are trying to stop deliberate users.

    A determined user who has guessed the prohibited keyword could get around it by simply substituting numbers or other characters for letters, such as z00 instead of zoo, representatives for Canon conceded.

    • Or they will do something even worse, like posting the document on their publicly accessible webpage or something equally bad.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      "If someone wants to make a copy of some secret document, they will quickly learn that the copiers have this software installed and will use a different machine. "

      Or a digital camera, which can fit nicely in a cigarette pack...

    • Joke's on you, Canon! I print out all my important documents in Wingdings...
    • It seems like this technology's usefulness went out the window years ago whenever nearly everyone started carrying cellphones with cameras around with them at work. A notice was posted at my work with the address and directions for where we were having an office party last year, so instead of writing it down I just snapped a picture with my phone. And when I pulled it up later it was easy to read on my phone, and I bet it would have been even easier to read if I had pulled it up on my computer. Anyone th
  • Stupidity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daimanta (1140543) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @08:35PM (#33878178) Journal

    "The system can optionally inform the user by email that their attempt has been blocked, but without identifying the keyword in question, maintaining the security of the system."

    Until the user decides to compare his blocked page with blocked pages from other letters or does a binary search for the forbidden word. Glad they thought this through.

    • Most people are not technically proficient/clever enough to do any of that. They'll just post the document on their personal webpage or Facebook profile or something.
    • by EboMike (236714)

      Binary search would be fine, except that "The server will email the administrator a PDF copy of the document in question if a user attempts to do so". It might look a tad bit suspicious if the user keeps trying to make copies of the same document with different parts blacked out.

    • It obviously isn't intended to block spies: just the usual oblivious doofus.

  • by stimpleton (732392) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @08:40PM (#33878204)
    From TFA: "The latest version of Uniflow has a keyword-based security system. Once configured by an administrator, the system can prevent a user from attempting to print, scan, copy or fax a document containing a prohibited keyword, such as a client name or project codename."

    So its not some Canon thing where they think some words shouldnt be used. You know, dirty words like Bottom or Crevice.

    The internal admin can set the words. Its like a silent alarm really. No different to a corporate spam filter with words added to a blacklist by an admin.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's basically a data loss prevention product. See a string of numbers that looks like a credit card or SSN? Sorry, you're not allowed to print/copy/fax that. Contact your security admin/supervisor to explain why you need to print employee socials and how you plan to safeguard/eventually dispose of that information.

      I can see this being very useful for shops that have to deal with PCI or PII laws.

  • what happens if you unplug the LAN cord?

  • Simple workaround (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gstrickler (920733)
    Just use CAPTCHAs for any banned words, phrases, or other banned content.
  • 10,000 quatloos to the first printer virus that propagates from printer to printer on the network and whose only other effect is to replace the word "strategic" with the word "satanic" in any printed output!
  • by Ranger (1783)
    better not be on that list.
  • How to abuse this system (and possibly get fired)
    Step 1: Find some known banned words that are not easily noticed
    Step 2: Get access to coworker's Microsoft Word.
    Step 3: Set Auto-correct to change similar spelled words to these banned words.
    Step 4: Don't get caught.

  • Censorship == bad but...

    If you have access to one of these machines at work and you can't copy something, maybe there's a good reason for it. If it's hindering your job, go up the chain (painful perhaps but such is life). If you're doing it for personal reasons, maybe you should go to a copy shop.

    If you're the nefarious type, photograph the pages and print them elsewhere.

    If you own the copier, you control the keywords.

    I'm looking at this from the employer perspective. I'm purposely not looking at the copyri

  • by JoeZeppy (715167) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @09:35PM (#33878580)
    This has nothing to do with foul language and everything to do with people walking out the door with account numbers, medical records, credit card info, social security numbers and other valuable private information.
    • Wow, do any of you people have jobs?

      Hi, welcome to Slashdot! You must be new here!

    • by Dan B. (20610) <slashdotNO@SPAMbryar.com.au> on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:10AM (#33879378) Homepage

      This has nothing to do with foul language and everything to do with people walking out the door with account numbers, medical records, credit card info, social security numbers and other valuable private information.

      Yes, this is true.

      Although I don't know why this is "Breaking News" considering it has been offered on Xerox products for over 3 years.
      And I should know, we sell this stuff to government departments purely based on the security we can offer them.

      It might be easy to hand write the details off the screen for circumvention, but that is only going to net you a small data set. These systems are designend to stop people walking off with entire client databases and that type of thing. In the governemnt, it's more about keyword 'flagging' that sends the MIB to your desk on very short notice.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Mal-2 (675116)

        It might be easy to hand write the details off the screen for circumvention, but that is only going to net you a small data set. These systems are designend to stop people walking off with entire client databases and that type of thing. In the governemnt, it's more about keyword 'flagging' that sends the MIB to your desk on very short notice.

        It also does nothing to keep you from using your phone to take a picture of the screen -- something I have done when the machine coughs up a BSOD.

  • This is not a privacy issue; there is little expectation of privacy in a workplace when using company property anyway. I personally feel this would be a nice help; imagine working for a government contractor and having having software automatically raise flags when someone copies documents with "DO NOT COPY" or "CONFIDENTIAL" in the OCR text. This is somewhat useful.
  • will include the exciting breakthrough technology

    I must have a different understanding of this context unless by "exciting breakthrough" they mean "censorship breakthrough", then I get it.

  • Just another brick in the wall.

    -FL

  • Canon Blocks Copy Jobs Using Banned Keywords

    If the keywords are banned, how can you use them to do any copy blocking?

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:06PM (#33879120) Homepage
    will be some of the first 'banned words', I bet. Only in Chinese, not English.

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