When we talk of cyber security, most people’s attention immediately turns to computers. Not a week goes by when there isn’t a headline news story of a major corporation’s computers being compromised through a cyber-attack. Just last week, the World Economic Forum declared cyber-attacks as the third most likely global risk in 2018, after extreme weather conditions and natural disasters. And with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) becoming a reality by the end of May, companies are busy directing their focus on making sure their computer networks are as resilient as they can be.
However, there’s something else, sitting quietly and innocently in the corner of your office that cyber hackers are increasingly turning their attention to. The humble office printer is seen as the weakest link in your company’s IT network and provides rich data pickings.
Modern day printers not only print but scan, copy and fax and the chances are, traces of this data are stored on the printer’s internal drive. These printers are connected to the company network, which by default, gives hackers access to your entire IT network. If your printer doesn’t have a firewall or other security settings enabled, you’re leaving the door wide open for malicious firmware to be uploaded to your printer devices.
So, what can you do to make sure your printer is as secure as the rest of your data network?
First off, change your mindset. A printer is not just a printer or scanner any more but is a small computing device with its own memory, hard drives and other components you’re probably not even aware of; all are capable of being infiltrated by a hacker. Once you think like this, your security steps should be intuitive. Make sure updates of firmware are carried out regularly as this will normally remove any vulnerabilities that have subsequently been discovered by the manufacturer. Yes, security tools on the company network your printer is connected to can help with protection but they don’t always block access to out of date devices.
Bear in mind that when you send and scan data from an older, less secure device, it will not give you the option to encrypt the outgoing file. All data moving across the network should be encrypted to prevent its contents being intercepted and read by a hacker or malicious software lurking elsewhere on your network.
Remember that documents left unattended on the printer can be potentially damaging if picked up by the wrong person. By using a print and release procedure, either with inbuilt or third-party software, documents are only printed and collected by the correct authorised person.
Not sure what to do? Contact a managed print services provider who will make sure your printers are as secure as the rest of your data network.