New York Tower Blueprints Found in Trash

“Dumpster diving” is more relevant to security than ever. People seem to print confidential files on a daily basis. I don’t know what happened to the digital transition, but this continues to be a source of major concern. The story today involves the building plans for the future WTC.

Two sets of confidential blueprints for the planned Freedom Tower, which is set to rise at Ground Zero, were carelessly dumped in a city garbage can on the corner of West Houston and Sullivan streets, The Post has learned.

Experts said the detailed, floor-by-floor schematics contain enough detail for terrorists to plot a devastating attack.

“Secure Document – Confidential,” warns the title page on each of the two copies of the 150-page schematic that a homeless, recovering drug addict discovered in the public trash can.

Don’t let this happen to you. Just don’t print anything anymore. And if you do, treat hard copy like you would a stack of $100 bills. Really, give it a try. It cuts down on paper use. Similarly, if you work at a company with printer addiction issues try using a clear-tray policy — each printer gets a person assigned the duty of clearing the tray every so many hours (e.g. at lunch and end of day). They will not only keep confidential material from floating around, but also give good validation of printer use logs.

Imagine if the man in the story had made a shelter out of the papers. Hmm, that makes me wonder if future fashion statements will include clothes decorated with random company data mixed in with “secret” and “confidential” stamps.

2 thoughts on “New York Tower Blueprints Found in Trash”

  1. I work in an office which is shared with several mechanical, civil and chemical engineers. They are printing stuff out all the time — often on A3 paper (297 × 420 mm, similar to “ledger” sized US paper), sometimes much larger stuff on the plotter.

    There are three main reasons:
    1. There are many legal instruments they produce that still have to be in hard copy, with physical holograph signature blocks. Yes, this is just lawyers not keeping up with the tech;
    2. There is lots of stuff that they are legally required to keep hard copies of because no-one has settled on any other format that has the necessary longevity. For example, plans for some underground services on some of our projects must be filed in a format that will still be accessible in at least 250 years time. Sure, other technologies might be capable of achieving this in principle, but the formats are not stable enough, they are not universally accepted, etc. etc. Provided you use archival quality paper and ink, a printout is simple enough, and it does the job.
    3. Finally, for a lot of very fine detailed work, you still really don’t get enough detail on a monitor. A 600 dpi printout on A3 paper is 7016 x 9921 pixels. Nobody makes a monitor like that — and remember, for some stuff, even 69,605,736 pixels isn’t good enough and they resort to the good old plotter!

  2. Roger, good points. I was being a bit too tongue-in-cheek.

    Historical archives need to be maintained in hardcopy for a many good reasons (including development in resolution technology, longevity, etc.) but that just means to me that the hardcopy should be valued more and thus treated to vault-like procedures. Everyone should work with softcopy primarily and be educated about the risks/regulation of hardcopy.

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