Printers: Why are they insecure and how are they a risk to my business?
You may be surprised to learn that printers can be a serious security risk to any business, and failure to adopt suitable security measures could end up costing your company a significant sum. Although most people are aware that taking care over computer security is vital, the risks which are involved in inadequate printer security could actually be greater, leading to extremely damaging breaches of information.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which printer security could pose a risk to your company:
Increased Maintenance And Supply Costs
Perhaps the most obvious security risk relating to wireless printers in the workplace is that without sufficient controls they could end up being used by unauthorised users. If print jobs remain unencrypted when they travel to the printer across the network, cybercriminals could obtain access to the physical functions, potentially wreaking havoc by sending countless fake printing jobs that jam the system, or adjusting internet setting to cause chaos. Should this happen, you may end up being unable to gain access to your printers, therefore racking up high bills in replacement ink cartridges and paper. Annoying and expensive as this may be, increased maintenance and supply costs are one of the least destructive problems which can arise from poor printer security.
Sensitive Information Being Accessed By Unauthorised Users
Since the majority of printers these days can store printed data electronically, if security measures are not in place, a host of potential threats could occur. Print jobs which have been stored in the cache of the printer could allow hackers to access sensitive business or personal information like financial details, internal documents and key memos. If such documents are then released to the public, the company’s reputation could be irreparably harmed. It is therefore essential to clear all of the saved printing jobs which are in the internal memory of the device regularly and also to ensure the printer’s internal hard drive is properly encrypted.
Vulnerability Of The Network
If a wireless printer is unsecured, the entire network is exposed and therefore vulnerable. Just one unsecured printer could leave all of the connected devices at risk of attack. Cybercriminals could also spy on the networked devices, compromising the whole network’s security by make an access route to any of the connected computers.
How To Address The Issues
There are many steps which can be taken to mitigate these security risks. Firstly, all printers which are connected to the network must be properly equipped with advanced security features. Any outdated models should be replaced with more modern models which are designed to combat the risks that hackers pose. Firmware must also be kept up to date with all patches and drivers recommended by the manufacturer downloaded. PIN numbers and access passwords are also an effective way to ensure that only personnel with proper authorisation are able to gain access to the printer.
When sending printing jobs to the printer, always ensure that you are using an encrypted connection, and assign a name to the wireless network which is different from its stock name. A printer which is equipped with an encrypted hard drive is always the best idea, and passwords should always be frequently changed.
Of course, it goes without saying that probably the single most effective way of protecting the network from potential hacking through the printer is to use hardwired, direct connections between printers and computers. Although this is impractical in many enterprise environments, it is a very effective way to combat the possibility of hacking in a private office or smaller workplace.