Meridian Blog

An Overlooked Threat to Network Security: Don't forget about your printers

by Todd Stanton - January 13, 2016 - Copiers & Printers

An Overlooked Threat to Network Security: Don't forget about your printers

When it comes to IT security, most business professionals today think about their desktop computers — as they should. But our smartphones, tablets and PCs are not the only devices on our networks that can compromise critical infrastructure.

A few months ago, the Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDOS) attack on Dyn Inc.'s Domain Name Server marked an unprecedented level of cyber intrusion, causing widespread website availability issues throughout the East Coast. This disruption shed light on some of the major vulnerabilities within Internet-of-Things devices, including those that we tend to overlook, such as printers. 

Keep reading for:

  • a quick video on why you should care about printer security, courtesy of Christian Slater and HP Studios
  • key factors that come into play for the overlooked threat of printer security
  • what you can do to overcome the risk and secure your printers

Key factors for the printer security threat

Your printer is an essential piece of equipment, but it's easy to forget about it until you actually need it (or it stops working). These fringe devices, or peripherals, can pose the greatest security risk because, even though they're now essentially mini computers with sophisticated computing capabilities, they're not usually managed with nearly the same security protocols and standards as other devices and networks. For this reason alone, they're an appealing target for hackers and other attacks.

Related: 5 Key Principles for Data Security

"Don't overlook the role printers play in your network security."

According to SC Magazine, one research study found that 63 percent of businesses reported experiencing at least one data breach that could be attributed to a printer. There are a wide range of factors that come into play when it comes to printer security.

For example, the source revealed that some of the top reasons contributing to the issue include employees with risky printing habits, unsafe disposal of sensitive documents (not shredding the material or leaving paper in tray) and underestimating role of printers in network security. If any of these factors resonate with you, you may also be interested in reading How to Securely Print Confidential Documents Without Your Own Personal Desktop Printer.

How to overcome printer security risks

Print devices should be protected through a number of security controls, including user authentication safeguards, hard drive encryption and clearly defined security protocols and policies. For a brief overview of some relevant solutions, you can check out this simplified intro slide deck on print fleet management software solutions.

Also, keep in mind that it's not just the devices themselves that are a concern, but the documents and the information they contain. You need to control not only who is able to access the printer network, but minimize the chances of documents and data falling into the wrong hands.

As technology continues to advance and computer networks grow bigger and more complex, more robust and sophisticated print security solutions are needed to manage all connected devices. Working with a managed print services provider can help give you the full visibility your organization needs for comprehensive printer monitoring, maintenance and security. 

Contact us to learn more about print management solutions, or request a complimentary assessment.

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