Your Printers Are at Risk: Insights on Print Security and Technology
Do you think of your office printers the same way you think of your computer? If not, you aren’t alone, but consider this; according to QuoCirca’s Managed Print Services Report 2017, 60% of organizations reported at least one print-related data breach in the past year. Hackers are now targeting printers because most modern printers, like computers, use touchscreens, hardware, drivers and networks, which offer hackers, or individuals looking to get information from a company, a variety of opportunities to exploit weaknesses. These include:
- Employee neglect – It’s not uncommon for documents containing confidential information to be left unattended on a printer. Anyone with access to the building could potentially steal confidential information simply by taking a piece of paper off of a printer.
- Network gateway – Hackers can gain access to a company’s entire network through just one unsecure networked printer. This can give them access to company data and contacts, which they can use to spread viruses that delete data, steal information (sometimes, for ransom) or cause serious downtime, all of which are expensive to resolve.
- Lack of protected access – Simply put, without login credentials when printing, anyone can get into a printer and access data and documents information stored in the printer’s memory and hard drive, including past print jobs, emails and more.
- Unprotected access points – If there’s open, unmonitored access to printers, there’s an opportunity for physical tampering, installation of corrupt software or exploitation via ports to spread malicious programs.
It may seem costly, but securing your printers is a must in today’s tech-driven world, and there are several options tailored to specific budgets and sizes. Here are a few things to consider when working to improve your company’s printer security:
- Upgrade your printing fleet – Newer print models offer more options for both in-office and remote access printing. This includes options for user authentication, data encryption, print monitoring, automatic upgrades and responses when the printer is compromised.
- Initiate employee training – Make a print security plan that can be part of the onboarding process, and provide documentation or additional training for current employees.
- Utilize monitoring tools – If you have an IT team, giving them the ability to monitor printer use is key to protecting against abuse. Monitoring will show where people are printing from, what’s being printed and overall usage patterns. This information can help spot employee misuse and alert of any attempts to access your printers from suspicious locations.
- Set credentials – Many printers nowadays give you the ability to designate access, either through logins, codes or with physical badges to ensure that only those with permission can access printers. If your printer has pull printing options, print jobs can be designated to a secure hard drive accessible with these credentials from any designated device.
- Invest in assessments – If you aren’t sure if your current printing fleet is secure, request an assessment. Teams like those at Impact can do a deep-dive into your network via penetration testing and identify holes that can be exploited, and offer solutions and technology within your budget that you can invest in to better protect your printers.
Impact Networking and HP recently partnered to host a Print Security Forum, which focused on the importance of protecting printers, and showed some of the innovative ways businesses can improve their print security. As more data breaches occur in more creative ways, it’s important not to forget about the security of your printers. Remember; an investment in your hardware will be much less expensive than the potential cost of fixing damages done by a hacker.