Security is often overlooked when it comes to printing devices. In reality, cybercriminals can hack your printer to steal confidential information.
The last thing you thought you needed protection from cybercriminals was your printer. However, the truth is quite different.
To gain access to and exploit valuable data, attackers actively seek out weak security links. And printers are one of the weakest links.
The thing about printers today is that they are connected to your devices, network, and internet. As a result of this new open-access functionality, they are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Many business owners focus primarily on computers and mobile phones while neglecting to secure their printers.
The majority of people still view printers as internal devices that perform basic functions. This makes them an easy target for cybercriminals.
Through a printer, hackers can gain access to confidential information and all connected computers and networks.
Furthermore, you may not realise that your printer can store a large amount of information about you – tax documents, bank details, financial records, employee information, personal information, etc. These sensitive data can be collected by a hacker simply by accessing the printer’s operating system.
In case you just realised how crucial it is to secure your printer, keep reading. To help you do that, this article offers eight tips.
The 8 Tips##
1. Check Your Printers’ Configuration###
Several factors can make a printer vulnerable to cyber threats. Getting the basics right will help you avoid attacks.
The first thing you should do is change the default password on your printer. It is not sufficient to use a simple “123456” code to access a printer remotely since anyone can access it.
Second, make sure you’re printing files remotely from your own router. Connecting to a “Guest” network is never a good idea.
2. Make sure the print tray is regularly inspected###
There’s no need to explain this one, but everyone could benefit from it as a reminder. Be sure to check your print trays and remove unused pages that contain sensitive information. You can’t prevent data leaks any easier than this.
If you don’t want anyone to see your confidential documents, get a shredder for your office.
3. Make sure your firmware and malware are up-to-date###
Invest time and effort in ensuring your malware and firmware protection is up-to-date and capable of handling all types of hacks.
Many printers have malware protection pre-installed.
In HP printers, for example, the “SureStart” software monitors approaching targets while the printer is running. In the event of an attack, the software can shut down the device. By doing this, you can prevent attacks from spreading throughout the network.
4. Access to the network should be limited###
An unprotected printer in a network is an extremely easy target for cybercriminals. Yes, printers must be able to access networks in order to perform remote printing. However, if it is possible to do the job by disabling the network access, you should do this.
Otherwise, make sure your printer and network settings only allow print jobs from trusted networks. In this way, outside interference and security breaches can be avoided.
5. Make sure your printer is up to date###
Keeping your printer up to date is as important as keeping your phone updated. In the same way iOS developers look for bugs and fix them in new updates, printer manufacturers update their software to fix known vulnerabilities.
You can easily avoid known threats to your printer by checking for printer updates. To maximise the security benefits, you should update your printers every quarter.
6. Put a firewall in place###
Chances are, if you run an office, you already have a firewall. In case you missed this requirement, now is your chance.
A reliable firewall keeps printers safe from cybercriminals.
There is most likely a firewall pre-installed on your computer, and all you have to do is keep it enabled. For homes and offices, there are also specialised firewalls that provide advanced security and are virtually impossible to breach.
7. Make sure your storage is encrypted###
A printer connected to a shared network can print remotely. Hackers can intercept and exploit data when it travels from a computer to a printer while in transit.
You can prevent this from happening by encrypting your print jobs. Make sure your printer’s hard drive or internal drive is encrypted as well.
When you print a document, it is often stored as an image within the printer, which makes it an easy target for hackers. That’s why you should use an encryption tool to protect your data. Many modern printers already have this tool built in.
The tool lets you set up a secure password for printer storage encryption, remove user IDs and ex-employee access, delete documents once they’ve been printed, and more.
8. Provide your employees with education###
It’s likely that you’re not the only person using the printer in your office. Everyone who has access to it should be aware of the responsibilities that come with its use. Consider ways to ensure both the physical and virtual safety of your printers with your employees.
Staff should also be cautious when printing from their mobile devices, since smartphones are easier to hack. Educate them about phishing scams and how to avoid falling victim to them.
As a final step, make sure they understand how confidential information can be used in your company.
Now is the time to ensure the security of printers##
It is surprising how many printers are overlooked when it comes to security. In light of the fact that most business owners see them as merely internal devices with the sole purpose of printing documents, it’s no wonder they’re a security weak point.
Before your next printing job, take a moment to learn how to make your printer more secure, whether you use it at work or at home.
The threat of cybercriminals is increasing, so it is important for each of us to protect our data. These tips will help you improve your printer’s security.
For more information on protecting your printers, contact us today. We can schedule a 10-15-minute chat to discuss how you can implement these changes and keep cybercriminals at bay.
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