How secure is your network printer?

7 December 2016

2 min read

Your printer might not be an obvious target for cyber criminals but if you’re using it to print sensitive data or it’s on a network then you’re going to want to check this guide out.

How secure is your network printer? (Desktop)

The unassuming office printer. Not the first target on a cyber criminal’s list but usually one that’s left wide open to potential attackers. To keep your data safe and locked away check the following tips:

Approved networks and devices only

How many phone and data lines does your business have? Chances are there will be more than one and if your printer is connected to the wrong one then it could be left wide open. Check the following to ensure only approved networks and devices can access it:

  • Restrict access with a firewall service
  • Connect it to a dedicated print service (with appropriate network controls)
  • Remote default gateway to disable internet routing

Encryption

Encryption scrambles the data transmitted to and from the router that your printer is connected to, which makes it impossible for spies and hackers to read it. Without encryption your print data will essentially be broadcast in clear, readable text. There are a number of free programs available online that let would-be hackers find and read your documents when they’re transmitted to the printer.

Not all types of encryption are as secure as one another, so the preferred method is WPA or WPA2, where you create a password or passphrase to access the network.

If you access the printer interface via a web browser, then use SSL encrypted https:// instead of http://.

Default password

Leaving anything configured to the default factory settings is asking for problems. You might be surprised to learn that printers can be used to launch attacks against your network.

  • Reroute print jobs
  • Perform Denial of Service attacks
  • Launch attacks against connected systems on the network

Run cut down services

Do you need to run every protocol that comes enabled? No, and leaving them wide open means giving hackers potential access to everything from all data stored on the printer’s hard drive to hosting external files or providing access to illegal files as an FTP server.

Stay up to date

If you don’t have a managed print service, then it’s essential to keep on top of updating your printer and the services which run off of it. The firmware will be regularly changed and updated by the device manufacturer to plug security vulnerabilities and add extra functionality. Leaving these holes unplugged is like giving hackers a head start on breaking in.

What happens to your docs?

While not strictly an aspect of network printer security, make sure that you keep track of your documents after they’ve been printed. There are a number of options for ensuring only you get access to your personal documents, such as setting the printer to manual feed, which releases the job when you physically request it. You can also set up fob activated print feeds, which a user has to authenticate to release the print job – if they’re not fast enough the queue is wiped.

One of the easiest ways to manage your printers print security is to get a managed print service. You can optimise, manage and improve printing workflows with innovative hardware, software and transform the way you do business.

Click here to find more about managed print services. Alternatively check out more great content on BusinessNow.

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