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Xerox admits there's no fix yet for number-fudging copiers

Don’t trust your spreadsheets to these machines

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A flaw in the scanning compression software of some Xerox copiers which changes digits and numbers run through the machine is worse than first thought and will require a full software upgrade, the self-styled "Document Company" has said.

The flaw was first spotted by German computer science student David Kriesel, who discovered that some low-resolution copies of building plans he was making had had their numbers altered. Xerox confirmed that this was the case, but blamed the users for reducing the quality settings on their copiers from their factory defaults.

Xerox said it will be pushing out a software patch to fix the issue in the next few weeks, but said the problem could be solved if the copiers are set for highest quality (and this large file size) copying. Now it appears this may not be enough, according to a company statement.

"After further testing of the scanning function we've now determined the unit’s “Quality/file size” factory default and highest modes don’t completely alleviate the problem of substituting characters on stress documents," said Rick Dastin, president of office and solutions business group at Xerox.

"The default and highest modes do substantially reduce the likelihood of character substitution but due to a software bug character substitution is not completely eliminated. We apologize for any confusion that came from our prior communications."

Normal office documents are unaffected he insisted, but on low-resolution scans of documents that use small font sizes (Kriesel replicated the problem using six and seven-point Ariel text and numbers) then it may reoccur. Xerox said it is working with Kriesel to fix the issue and will push out a software patch to fix it as soon as possible.

The list of affected models has also grown, with over a dozen Xerox WorkCenter systems suffering the glitch and two ColorQube units. A full list can be seen on Xerox's Q&A document covering the issue. ®

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