Networked Printer Security Best Practices
Networked Printer Security Best Practices
Is Your Printer Your Security Weak Link?
It seems like every day we’re hearing about another corporate data breach. Every device that accesses your network puts your stored data at risk. You need to protect everything from mobile devices to your networked printers.
And security is worth the cost; a secured printer has six times fewer breaches than an unprotected one.
The Risks of Not Securing Your Networked Printer
Around 2005, printers became true network-attached devices; no longer are they wired to a PC or server. Almost overnight, printers became multifunction devices with access to everything on the network.
Today, your network-connected printer is now “internet-aware”. This means it creates new opportunities for cloud services, as well as advanced features like remote management by third-party service providers. However, this can cause problems.
Plus, hackers can breach your network through the device and put you at risk by:
- Obtaining printer passwords, and passwords used for communication protocols like FTP or POP3 which can then be used to remotely access your network
- Resetting printers to bypass the machines’ protection mechanisms opening you to a data breach
- Capturing and manipulating print jobs
- Forcing your printer to display a message and go offline
This is just the beginning. Once a hacker has accessed your network via your printer, they can cause mayhem. They can gain access to sensitive information, and cause issues ranging from print job manipulation to installing malicious software. They can even steal proprietary or financial data and demand a ransom to release it.
Your printer, in essence, becomes a beachhead into your otherwise secure network.
Here are three steps that your business needs to take to defend your print environment:
Step 1: Secure the printer.
A major advantage that a newer model printer offers to your business is that it has layers of embedded security features to protect your printer from becoming compromised at every level, from start-up to shut-down. A Managed IT Services provider will ensure that the device in your workplace is compliant with internationally recognized security standards and that all updates are code signed to confirm authenticity.
Step 2: Secure the data.
Your data needs to be protected, whether it’s in transit or stored on your printer’s hard drive. The latest model printers feature a variety of encryption capabilities to make data nearly impossible to decipher if intercepted. Before decommissioning a printer, it’s imperative that your business takes the time to erase all data stored on the hard drive before disposing of the device.
Step 3: Secure documents.
Printed documents left unattended on the output tray pose a serious security threat to your business. To prevent sensitive documents from becoming abandoned on the output tray, your organization can utilize pull printing. This process requires the user to input an authentication code at the printer to release the documents and eliminates the risk that documents will be left uncollected.
Ways to Secure your Printer
The bottom line is that you need to secure your business printer just like you secure your office computer and other devices connected to your network. Here are five key areas to remember:
- Encryption – Encrypt data at the source before printing.
- Erase – Periodically erase all data from your printer’s hard drive.
- Control – Pull-printing requires a PIN number or other control to release a print job at the device increasing security and reducing the number of unclaimed jobs.
- Update – Keep firmware and security updates current and confirmed as legitimate.
- Manage – Use software to manage devices, access, and security compliance.
How Can We Protect Printers From Being Hacked?
- Change your printer’s default administrator login credentials.
- Check for firmware and security updates. If an update is available install it immediately.
- Monitor your printers using monitoring and alerting software.
- Make sure your printer is behind a firewall and covered by network security protocols.
- Implement user authentication to track usage and prevent unauthorized access.
- Disable unused features like telnet, FTP, etc.
- Use the security features your printer offers like encrypted printing for sensitive documents.
- Isolate printers to a local network, separate from your computers and disable out-of-network communications.
Leaving your printer unprotected is like leaving the back door unlocked. Keep your printer security at the same level as the rest of your network to prevent cyberattacks. Contact us today to help you secure your print environment.
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