When it comes to cybersecurity, you probably think of protecting computers, apps, or online databases first, and printers last. Did you know that printers can be exploited by hackers and used as a gateway to access your company's systems? Are your business printers protected against hacks? Here at Beringer Technology Group we often encounter unsecured printers with new managed services clients. Part of our on-boarding process consists of changing all password and securing these neglected devices.
What makes business printers vulnerable to cyber attacks?
When assessing network security threats, companies primarily focus on servers and computers not only because they are the most exposed to external threats, but also because they get the bulk of cyber-attacks. Printers are often at the bottom of the list since they are not prime targets. Furthermore, their functions seem to be internal at first glance, as they don’t interact with external systems.
But it’s exactly because of their primary functions, namely printing and scanning, that make print devices perfect cyber criminal targets. Businesses run important documents such as tax forms, employee information, medical records, and financial statements through print devices, and hackers would definitely love to get their hands on them.
And they can — easily.
Network printers store previous print jobs on their hard drive, sometimes including those that have been canceled. If anyone accesses the printer, even remotely, they may be able to see those documents by hacking into the printer using a specialized tool.
Print files can be intercepted during wireless transmission, as modern printers can now be connected to WiFi networks. Not only can hackers exploit printers’ open network ports to view data, but they can also take over vulnerable printers and transmit their own data through the machine.
Business printers should not be ignored when planning a cybersecurity strategy!
What can you do to protect your business printers? Follow these best practices:
- Monitor your network continuously and promptly install printer software updates and patches. Printer manufacturers often release software patches or updates, so regularly check for those.
- Change the default password and administrator login credentials of printers with web management capabilities to block unauthorized use by someone finding the pre-set values posted on the internet.
- Only allow company-owned devices to connect to your printers.
- Always connect to your printers using secure connections. Conversely, avoid accessing your printers through a public internet connection.
- Restrict printer access by using a firewall.
- If your wireless printer has the feature that requires users to enter a PIN before they can print documents, enable it to prevent unauthorized access.
- Isolate your printer from your main company network and disable out-of-network printing if you don’t use your printer for fax and email.
- If you handle classified data, do not connect your printer to any network. Instead, connect it directly to your computer using a physical cable, or print from a thumb drive.
- Secure your printouts by enabling manual feed, which requires a user to manually input paper (or any material to be printed on). Doing so will reduce the risks of the printed document getting stolen or being left in the printing area.
- Take a moment to secure your personal printer, if connected to your computer, before you leave your desk.
Another way to secure your printers is by partnering with an IT company that can take care of your printer-related worries. From thwarting attacks to reducing management costs and keeping your printer at optimal functionality, our experts can help.
Interested in learning more about cybersecurity? If you can't answer "Yes" to the question "Are your business printers protected against hacks?", call us today and discover how our wide array of tech services can safeguard your business, including our Cybersecurity Risk Assessment Service.
Beringer Technology Group, a leading Microsoft Gold Certified Partner specializing in Microsoft Dynamics 365 and CRM for Distribution, also provides expert Managed IT Services, Backup and Disaster Recovery, Cloud Based Computing, Email Security Implementation and Training, and Unified Communication Solutions.