Is your multifunction printer connected to your network? Of course, it makes perfect sense: multiple employees can easily access the device to fax, print, scan, copy, send files and store documents. Next question – have you protected the device with the same level of security as the network it’s connected to?
An unprotected or under-protected networked printer can be an access point for breach. In 2017, the security features of 20 common printer models from HP, Lexmark, Dell and Brother were tested by researchers. They found that every model was susceptible to at least one type of attack.
The Risks of Not Securing Your Networked Printer
Around 2005, printers became true network-attached devices and no longer just a directly or USB attached device connected to a PC or server. Almost overnight, printers became multifunction devices with access to everything on the network.
Today, your network-connected printer is now internet-aware, creating new opportunities for cloud services as well as advanced features like remote management by third-party service providers.
If you’re not protecting your printer with the same level of security as the rest of your network you are at risk. Hackers using simple tools can breach your network through the device and put you at risk by:
Obtaining printer passwords, and passwords used for communication protocols like FTP or POP3 which can then be used to access your network
Resetting printers to bypass the machines’ protection mechanisms opening you to a data breach
Capturing and manipulating print jobs
Forcing your printer to display a message and go offline
This is just the beginning. Once a hacker has accessed your network via your printer they can cause mayhem ranging from print job manipulation or installing malicious software, to outright theft of proprietary or financial data, demanding a ransom to release it. Your printer, in essence, becomes a beachhead into your otherwise secure network.
Tips for Securing Your Device
The bottom line is that you need to secure your business printer just like you secure your office computer and other devices connected to your network. Here are some tips for securing your networked printer:
Change your printer’s default administrator login credentials.
Check for firmware and security updates. If an update is available install it immediately.
Monitor your printers using monitoring and alerting software.
Make sure your printer is behind a firewall and covered by network security protocols.
Implement user authentication to track usage and prevent unauthorized access.
Disable unused features like telnet, FTP, etc.
Use the security features your printer offers like encrypted printing for sensitive documents.
Isolate printers to a local network, separate from your computers and disable out-of-network communications.
What works best depends on your printer, usage, and network environment. If you’re not sure where to start, give us a call and let us help you design the best security solution to meet your company’s specific needs.