Printer Security…Is that a Thing??

Printers. Every office has one, but do you think any more about it unless it isn’t currently working? Should you?

The answer is yes. Printers can be one of the biggest risks to your network security. Per HP, “There are hundreds of millions of business printers in the world and less than 2% of them are secure.”, which is a great thing for anyone wanting to wreak havoc in your organization. Listed below are some of the main threats and vulnerabilities found in printers and some ways to mitigate them.

1.       Snooping

This is one of the most overlooked things in any organization. People can walk over to a printer and pick up documents that are confidential and see more than they should. If your printer doesn’t allow for secure print, those financials, employee information or other confidential material are out in the open.

If your printer can securely print, use it. If it does not, place the printer in a public area where it is highly visible. This will cut down on people snooping through documents that aren’t theirs, due to ability of being caught. If you are printing lots of sensitive material, it might be wise to purchase a printer for yourself and install it in your office, or a management only area, where most employees don’t have access to.

2.       Internal Storage

If your printer has an internal storage feature, be sure to wipe it clean before you throw it away or donate it to someone else. Internal storage can save print jobs, scans, faxes and copies that are made on it. All information should be purged from the machine, just like you would do with a computer.

Always do a thorough wipe of any technology that is being donated or recycled. This will ensure that your data stays private.

3.       Hacking

If you have an older model of printer or one that doesn’t have a password-protected feature, it can be very easy for a hacker to access your entire network. If that printer is also connected to the internet, the ability of hackers to get your business’s information is limitless; transmitting faxes, reroute print jobs elsewhere, retrieve saved copies of documents, or installing malware on your printer to infect your entire network are just some of the examples of problems hackers can cause.

First, always keep your machines updated. Firmware and drivers should be checked regularly to ensure the most updated version is on them. These updates guarantee the latest security features are loaded on your equipment and any holes are fixed.

Second, check your internet connection. If you don’t use this feature, just disable/disconnect it. If you do use it, make sure that you are using an encrypted connection (think https:// instead of just http:// if you access a website from your printer).

HP has a new printer campaign out that shows how easy it is for your printers to get hacked, how they do it, and what information they can gain from it. View the full video here: http://www8.hp.com/us/en/solutions/security/thewolf.html?jumpid=va_87trme41uf# Obviously, HP is setting up a “worst case scenario” to scare the pants off of you, but the key message rings true; if your system isn’t updated and protected, there are ways for the bad guys to gain entrance.