Network printers and multifunction devices are essential pieces of equipment for many businesses. Not only do they provide a much more efficient way of managing administrative tasks in the workplace, but they also help to improve productivity levels within various departments, from accounts payable to human resources.
However, network printers present dangerous cybersecurity risks if proper precautions aren't taken. To help you reduce your attack surface, let’s discuss four common printer security risks and the solutions to fix each risk.
1. Unrestricted Remote Access
Most businesses invest in multifunction printers (MFPs) for their convenience, especially when connected to a network. Whether employees connect to business services locally or are part of a remote workforce, MFPs allow users to access robust features no matter where they connect. But if remote access capabilities are left unrestricted, a business can be open to cyber threats from outside the organization.
A Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) can help to block anonymous and otherwise dangerous third parties from accessing your network printer. Configuring your router only to accept trusted device connections and restricting IP addresses outside your geographic location are other great ways to stay protected when users connect to your printer remotely.
2. Poor Administrative Security
Like computers and smart devices, multifunction office printers have security precautions built-in to their administrative panels. Unfortunately, many companies fail to password-protect their printers due to the inconvenience it causes users and administrators. This can cause several security issues and potentially compromise other connected devices.
One of the easiest ways to secure your office printer is by changing the default password to the administrative control panel. This can usually be done through the printer itself or a web browser connected to your network. It can also be wise to invest in managed cybersecurity services and applications to ensure your networked printer maintains high-quality document and data security.
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3. Unencrypted Data Transmissions
It’s important to remember that any time you send an email, digital fax, or remote print job through your network printer, data transmissions are being sent and received by the equipment. If these transmissions are intercepted by malicious sources, confidential data and sensitive documentation can be stolen or compromised.
Installing software solutions to encrypt network transmissions in your office keeps your data secure in case of a security breach. Print jobs can use IPPS (Internet Printing Protocol over SSL), which secures endpoint-to-endpoint security. If that data security is compromised, encrypted files will be useless to hackers and keep the company’s information private.
4. Unsecured Document Storage
Network printers have certain levels of internal storage capacity, which pose a cybersecurity risk if not secured properly. Whether using print or fax functionality, temporary files of jobs you complete can be saved to your equipment’s internal hard drive for later use. If default settings aren’t changed, anyone with access to your printer can access stored documents containing sensitive data.
It’s vital that before you sell or discard old office printers, all data is wiped from the internal storage. Most printers give the ability to format internal storage through the administrative panel. However, if they don’t, removing any internal storage media is essential before getting rid of the equipment. This will ensure no one outside your organization can access your data.
Improve Print Security and Reduce Your Attack Surface
Networked office printers present security risks if precautions aren’t taken to stay protected. By eliminating the aforementioned printer security vulnerabilities, you can ensure your data stays secure, and your equipment is operational for years to come.
However, the best way to bolster your print security is to partner with an experienced MPS provider who’s up to date on the most recent cybersecurity issues and offers a variety of proven IT solutions to meet the unique security needs of your organization’s printer fleet.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published on June 11, 2019, and has been updated for accuracy and current best practices.