The average business owner may know little about the extensive range of business printers currently on the market. However, when looking to update or purchase new devices, it becomes apparent that security should be a top concern.
Once upon a time, a printer was a simple device that had to be physically tethered to a computer to process jobs. Nowadays, business printers are mini-computers themselves, capable of wireless network connectivity and storing data. These capabilities have made them versatile business tools. However, these same features could also open doors to potential threats from hackers looking for an unguarded entry point to gain access to valuable information or extort businesses for financial gain.
Why Target Business Printer?
Most companies fail to consider printers when evaluating their business’s vulnerability to cyberattacks. Printers as interior devices with simple purposes, they are frequently disregarded.
Unfortunately, cybercriminals are all too aware of this oversight and will expend significant effort finding ways to take advantage of it. Their goal is to steal confidential personal data of employees and clients, or insider business information, via unprotected devices. They can then monetize the information they’ve acquired by selling it or extorting individuals and businesses.
What Are the Threats?
Cybercriminals have many tactics for getting their hands on important, valuable data. Most don’t require physical access to a device, however others do. It’s important to understand types of attacks used in order to know how to protect yourself. Here are some very common cyber attacks used when targeting printers.
These attacks involve using printers as access points to a network by installing malicious software that can spread to other devices within the network. These malware attacks can cause disruptions to business and put valuable data in jeopardy.
These are attacks where hackers not only gain access to information but also gain control over a device or even an entire network. Once they have control, they will request the business pay a ransom to regain control of their device, forcing business owners to make a difficult decision.
Businesses can pay the ransom in hopes the hacker stays true to their word and returns control and that they don’t do the same thing again the next day. Or they can get rid of all compromised devices and start fresh by purchasing brand-new devices and software and establishing new networks. Unfortunately, this is a considerable expense but a much more effective solution.
Print Job Hijacks
These security breaches are particularly concerning because they can go undetected for extended periods. These breaches involve intercepting print jobs and accessing the content of printed files. This is particularly concerning for businesses that regularly print and scan documents containing sensitive personal or financial information, for example, banks and hospitals.
Residual Data Mining
Residual data remains on a device’s software even when the device is no longer in use. If not properly wiped before disposal, information may still be available to criminals through the device’s storage. This is important to remember when disposing of any data-storing device. However, it’s often overlooked when disposing of printers because users don’t think of them as data-storing.
Security Features to Protect Business Printer
As innovative and cunning as cybercriminals may be, printer manufacturers, too, are aware of potential threats and are constantly developing and improving firmware to protect their customers. Here are some top security features and best practices to consider when choosing and maintaining a business printer.
Enable Security Controls
When purchasing a business printer, confirm it has built-in security protection. These programs help detect unauthorized access and malware programs. This is a common feature in printer manufacturing, but not all brands offer the same level of protection.
Additionally, purchasing a printer with security controls is only the first step. Next, you must understand their potential uses and limitations. And don’t forget to verify they’ve been properly enabled to make the most of the protection.
Keep Firmware Updated
Manufacturers often update firmware to offer better protection against new and existing security threats. It can be easy to overlook these updates when running a business, but they provide vital protection. Set a regular reminder to check for and install firmware updates.
Use Data Encryption
Data encryption protects files between computers and printers and data stored on the printer. Like with firmware and security controls, however, you’ll want to check that data encryption is enabled and regularly updated to make the most of this protection.
Consider Network Protection
There are tools and best practices for ensuring your printer doesn’t put your network at risk. A few potential options for securing networks are firewall protection, installing printers on a guest network, or even doing away with network printing. The proper network protection for your printer will depend on the needs and vulnerabilities of your company.
Most printers come with password protection as an available option. Frequently, though, passwords are deemed cumbersome or unnecessary in offices. However, passwords can be valuable for protecting printers from unwanted access. If you choose password protection, don’t forget to change the default password and update passwords regularly.
Dispose of Devices Properly
Before tossing out an old printer, be sure an IT professional properly wipes it off stored data. This will ensure no recoverable information remains on the device and can fall into the hands of cybercriminals.
Shopping for a New Business Printer? Don’t Skimp on Security
Overlooking the potential threats to unprotected printers can put your business at risk and potentially cost a business significantly. Still, comparing security features among numerous brands and product lines can be overwhelming. At these moments, speaking to an expert can be invaluable.
If you’re in New York, Totowa, Pennsauken, Edison, or Ft. Washington, Docutrend’s business printer experts are here to help. To speak with a professional who knows business printers and security, contact us today! And for more information on business printers, don’t forget to check out their blog.