Useless Knowledge # 5

So you have a copier or printer or fax machine..
Did you know that everything you print from one of those machines can be traced back to it? Every electronic has a serial number assigned to it. Not the number on the back that one may use for warranty, but a number that gets printed onto any document that comes from the machine.

Here's an example of how it might work.
You decide to kidnap someone and hold them for ransom. Before you go off and nab someone, you are sitting at your home working on the ransom note. In this day and age, nobody wants to take the time to cut and paste letters from magazines to assemble a note with, so you type one up on your pc and click, send it to your printer. Out pops the note from your printer and off you go, kidnapping someone and leaving the note in their place.

Aside from kidnapping someone, your main problem is your lack of tech knowledge. The note you printed has been encoded with a serial number. This isn't anything that can be seen on the paper, but it's there. So when the note is examined, the number will be traced back to the manufacturer.

The manufacturer will be able to know what type of machine the number was assigned to and where that machine was sent, ie, what store it was stocked at.

In turn, the store can track when that electronic was purchased and, if using a credit or bank card, which of course are used all the time without much thought, will know who bought it. So if you bought the printer on your credit card, the Feds would be knocking on your door in a relatively short amount of time.

This isn't a tidbit on what not to do when holding someone for ransom. That was just an example of how the information could be used. And don't hold anyone for ransom. The success rate is so low you can say it's impossible to get away with it. But if you do want to kidnap someone, then yea, go ahead and use your home printer.
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26-30
May 5, 2012