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How to protect your business from printer hack attacks

Printer hack attacks such as the well-publicised
PewDiePie attacks have become an increasing concern for businesses around the
world. While most of us are conscious about internet security on our PCs and
smartphones, the fact that our printers can be hacked might come as something
of a surprise.

The PewDiePie hackers highlighted the issue with printer security in a stunt where they forced 50,000 printers to create posters in support of their favourite vlogger PewDiePie.

But this goes beyond encouraging printers to print. Printer hacks can capture sensitive information as it is printed. If sensitive data regularly passes through your printer it is vitally important you ensure its protection as data breaches can be devastating. The Ponemon Institute’s 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study (sponsored by IBM) calculated the global average cost of a data breach at $3.6 million, or $141 per data record.

It’s worth noting that many printers are now
capable of storing data in their inbuilt memory, so they can store information
that has previously been printed. Technology is brilliant, and while this leads
to greater efficiency levels in the workplace, it is another example of where
information needs to be adequately protected.

Fried chips

Beyond data breaches, did you know hackers can even
cause your printer physical damage? Hack attacks on that lead to the data chip
being fried can lead to a printer that’s unable to function.

This could cost hundreds or thousands of pounds in
replacement hardware, not to mention the ensuing inconvenience of being without
a printer while issues are resolved.

Keeping your
printer secure

So how do we
ensure printers are kept secure? We asked our Printer
Specialist, Chris Hall for his top tips. Here’s what he said…

“The truth is, that the issue is mostly not the
printer itself but how it is configured on the network. The answers below are
aimed more at corporate environments than home users and it’s worth noting that
these tips apply to internet connectable products generally, not just printers.”

As the Internet of Things continues to expand, you
should be employing these security techniques across all connected devices.

How to protect your printer from hack attacks

 

  1. – Don’t connect your printer directly to the internet without the appropriate firewalls and security.
  2. – Restrict user access to the machine only from the relevant network segments (your network administrators will be able to do this).
  3. – Always update firmware to the latest available version as these contain security patches that keep your printer locked out.
  4. – Change the default admin passwords for accessing the administration menu and web interfaces.
  5. – Disable unused features on the device, particularly those that deal with remote access or allow external connection to the machine.

The above can generally apply to any network device
and not just printers. The PewDiePie hack was a result of there being an open
port connection to the internet that they managed to exploit. Again, this could
be avoided by simply disabling the port (another network admin role).

Secure printer
technology

Some printers, like the HP Enterprise series also boast their own integrated printer security technology for further peace of mind.

Threats from within

It’s also worth
mentioning here the threats from within your own building. Printers are a
shared resource and if your desk is located some distance from the machine you
may never know who’s going to pick up your document before you do. If you’re
printing sensitive data, your business could find itself in breach of GDPR
through the simple act of printing documents.

Fortunately, secure print
technology
easily overcomes this problem. Rather than printing the document
as soon as it is sent to print, confidential documents are stored within the
printer until the user enters a password. The document will therefore never end
up in the wrong hands.  

Unsecured printers have the potential to lead to
devastating attacks on your business or organisation but with a little planning,
these threats can be eliminated. We hope this information helps you stay safe
and secure. Please let us know if these printer security tips have helped you
in the comments below.

 

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1 comment

Xerox Printer Security | Printerbase 20 May 2019 at 9:52 am

[…] Hackers are growing more sophisticated than ever before, and as with all online technology, your printer presents a door to information, which can be compromised if left ajar. Find out more about protecting your printer from hack attacks. […]

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