Printers are arguably to the most common devices we use. From the household, office, company, medical, governmental, or education institution. From a security point of view, these machines are quite interesting since they have direct access to sensitive information like confidential reports, invoices, contracts or patient recipes. As critical as they are in work environment. People fail to realize that printers are just as susceptible to viruses, malware, and hacker attacks as computers. The issue of printer security isn’t a new one.
IT security spending is on the rise in corporate environments as the number and types of regulations increase. In fact Researchers have discovered security vulnerabilities on at least 20 network printer models by major name brands. What does this mean? This exploits potential hackers to easily steal information that was only intended to be printed as a hard copy. Even after a document has been successfully printed, the risks are still present.
In fact, one of the greatest security risks companies face in these scenarios lies in the printer’s
ability to store print jobs in its internal queue, even after the printing has been completed. This could give anyone with the ability to hack into the wireless network the ability to access and view highly sensitive internal information—and turn around and use that information for their own financial gain, or for the gain of a competitor company. Unsecured printing environments can leave organizations vulnerable to hackers and security breaches.
There are a number of things that individuals and companies can do to ensure their wireless printers aren’t providing an avenue for hackers to create havoc, perpetrate identity fraud, or obtain sensitive information. Protecting internal Wi-Fi connections with WPA2 encryption is one of the most critical steps to take. Enabling manufacturer security patches to download to printers automatically is another.
Most wireless printers that store data after a print job has been completed can also be set to erase that data just as soon as it’s no longer needed. If you prefer that your printer retains printed data for any period of time, the stored data should be encrypted to prevent anyone from accessing it before it’s had an opportunity to be purged from the device’s memory banks. Also, a printer’s internal memory can be disabled, preventing it from storing data. This is the most effective method of keeping printed information out of the hands of unauthorized individuals. Because they may no longer receive manufacturer support, older printers should be replaced with newer models that include updated security features.
Other tips to keep the content sent to your printers secure is disabling physical ports, placing printers in a secured area, and requiring the use of passwords or PIN codes for employees to use a printer.
Even the most tightly controlled and guarded information network can be compromised. Adding printer security to the mix is just another method of preventing outsiders from gaining access to your personal or business information. Whether you’re in the market for a wireless printer or are simply seeking ways to tighten down the security in your existing array, pay attention to the included security features and commit to employing them to your benefit.