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4 min read

Printers - A Cyber Vulnerability Your Business Probably Overlooked

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One of the most critical things in business organizations is the need to protect private data from getting out. You probably already have security measures in place for your network, but did you know that cybercriminals can use your printer as a gateway to hack your network? Printer and multifunction devices (such as the all in one print, fax, scan) security is often overlooked when noting which aspects of your business need more protection. 

These days printers are built with access to the internet, email, other devices, and your network to make printing more seamless. But did you know that they can actually store sensitive data they have accessed from your devices?

Is My Printer Open to Attacks?

Yes, your printer can be hacked. Attackers always start with the weakest links in an organization, and the printer is one of them. Hackers can easily steal your information via a printer. Many businesses are unaware of how much data their printers can store and the need to secure their printers. Once hackers infiltrate the printer's operating system, all data it has stored becomes available to them.

Secure Your Printer

Your printer is on the list of hackable devices in your office. You might have noticed unauthorized print jobs or error messages while trying to print. These could signify your computer is already compromised. The following is a list of things you can do to keep your printers and data safer. 

Regular Inspection of Print Trays

This is usually already a practice in organizations, so this tip is a reminder to emphasize its importance. Of all the security measures you could take, regularly checking print trays to remove documents that contain private information is the easiest to implement. Using shredders to get rid of papers with confidential information is also an easy way to make your business environment more secure. 

Limit the Printer’s Access to the Network

Your printer's access to your network and devices makes remote printing within the office possible. However, it is crucial to limit network access by disabling it or changing your printer's settings only to accept remote print jobs from trusted networks.

Educate Those With Access 

In most offices, almost all members of staff use the printers regularly. This makes it necessary to educate any team member who has access to the printer about printer safety. This includes knowledge of measures to be taken in ensuring the physical and virtual safety of the printer, especially while printing from their mobile devices. 

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Perform Proper Printer Configuration

Certain configurations leave the printer more open to attacks. Not changing the default password or connecting to unknown routers to perform a printing job are some of those settings that can make attacks easier if not set correctly. Make sure to change your default password, as those are very easy to guess and only connect to networks approved by your IT Provider.

Encrypt Your Storage

Organizations with more than one location often create shared networks between their printers so that they can print on all of their sites. This is the perfect opportunity for a cyber-attack as the data can be intercepted while in transit. You can easily avoid this data breach by encrypting your print jobs and sensitive data within the printer’s internal drive. Encrypting your storage also helps prevent attacks on the images of a printed document stored after a print job. Fortunately, many printers include a pre-built encryption tool that simplifies this process. 

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Install Malware and Firmware Updates as They are Released

Many printers also come with malware and firmware protection software like the encryption tool. This software shuts down the device when it notices an attack to prevent it from spreading. If yours came with one, be sure to keep your malware and firmware software up to date.

Regularly Update Your Printer Software

Printers need to be updated in the same way we update the operating systems of our phones and computers. After the manufacturers work to fix bugs and provide better security, they will release an update, be sure to install it. 

Use Firewalls

Firewalls are usually a part of setting up an office space; however, they should not be overlooked now if it was missed initially. Many computers come with firewalls preinstalled but must still be configured and maintained. A better solution for today’s threats is to have your IT provider install a special, more advanced firewall that would cover all of the devices in your office for more advanced security, better reliability, and easier maintenance.

Get Started Securing Your Printers and All-In-One Devices

Securing your printer(s) is just as important as all other security measures you take in your office and business. With the high rate of cyberattacks and small to medium-sized companies a target, it is up to you to protect your data from falling into the possession of cybercriminals. It's critical for data protection and organizational security to identify the gaps in print environments and take action to secure all the devices on your network.

Need More Insight?

If you have questions about securing your printer or office environment to boost your protection against cybercriminals, please reach out to our team. We’re here to help. Subscribe to our blog to get notified when more IT Support articles are posted. 

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