Printers: The hidden security risk

Tuesday, 6 December, 2016 In Editorial, Featured News

Numerous security researchers have shown how easily printers can be hacked, potentially giving attackers access to business IP at a huge cost to the enterprise.

The risks are multiple and can be complex to manage. For example, infected printers can be used as ‘botnets’ to attack PCs on the network in a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. Making things worse, an infected printer can block future firmware updates, potentially giving hackers constant access to a network and the devices connected to it.

No organisation is immune to this type of attack. According to analyst Quocirca’s research, 70% of companies have experienced one or more accidental data breaches through printing.

The risk is compounded by an increasing move to mobility within enterprises that sees users printing from locations such as business centres and airports as well as via insecure home networks.

With this in mind, Quocirca recommends mobile printing is tightly integrated into enterprise print management strategies to ensure costs are contained and security risks are mitigated.

Overall, staying secure in this increasingly complex environment can can be as simple as adding encryption to all jobs sent across the network. This can, for example, help to avoid a ‘man-in-the-middle’ attack, where hackers take over a printer and are then able to view data contained within every document printed.

In addition, every printer should be monitored and managed, and this can be done using remote solutions offered by a number of vendors.

It is also important to educate company employees about the hidden risks. Security breaches can occur due to bad habits such as failing to shred private documents after they are printed, or leaving them available for all employees to view. Cyber News Group emphasises that a security strategy is therefore key, ensuring that data protection regulation is taken into account at every stage.

Find out more about the world’s more secure printers


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