As technology continues to advance, connected office equipment like multifunction printers (MFPs) and scanners have become much more innovative and efficient in their operation. However, with that added efficiency comes the increased potential of security vulnerabilities left by poorly secured, high-traffic network devices.
An essential aspect of improving enterprise security posture is by taking active measures to secure your print environment. Here are six straightforward strategies you can follow to reduce your attack surface and protect your multifunction printers from security breaches and data leaks.
1. Invest in Print Management Software
One of the first steps you should take when securing your print environment is investing in secure print management software. Print management software gives you full transparency into all of your printer functions along with its user base. It allows you to measure print volume analysis, automate print queues and control, and impose limits on what features of your MFP are accessible to employees.
2. Use Data Encryption
Now that it's possible to initiate print functions remotely and through various connected devices, the risk of having data intercepted while in transit is heightened. One way businesses can continue to protect themselves is by encrypting all connections to the MFP. All connected users should use SSL encryption when accessing administrative control panels, and incoming/outgoing traffic should be protected with encrypted servers utilizing active firewalls.
3. Change Default Printer Passwords
By default, all MFPs are built with predefined usernames and passwords for their administrative panels. These are designed to make installation and setup procedures easier to document and troubleshoot. However, it's important to make sure these default login credentials are changed as soon as possible, as they can be used by malicious outside sources to gain access to the data shared in the MFP.
4. Utilize Secure Print Settings
Many MFPs come with secure print settings that can be enabled in the administrative panels. Secure print allows you to print multiple documents as you normally would to an MFP but holds the materials in a safe user box until you are physically at the printer. Once you're ready to pick up your documents, a personal PIN is used, which then allows the printer to access and complete the print jobs. This is an incredibly useful and secure feature to use when working in a larger office setting and when working with confidential documents.
5. Apply IP Filtering
For offices that maintain remote workforces and global operations, managing MFP access restrictions for multiple employees can be challenging at times. One way to help ensure only verified team members are accessing your print services is by applying IP filtering as part of your network security. IP filtering increases control over all network device activity and can be used to filter out traffic from unrecognized IP locations. This is an additional safeguard that can be used in conjunction with user authentication to harden your MFP security and ensure only verified personnel have access to connected hardware and software.
6. Sanitize Your Hard Drive
Whether you've leased or purchased your MFP, one of the most critical things you can do when returning or selling it is to remove or sanitize the hard drive. All multifunction printers and scanners use internal hard drives that are used to store temporary or long-term data associated with print and scan jobs. They can also store login credentials of users as well as sensitive data related to clients and business partners. Before giving up ownership of your MFP, it's essential that you remove or completely format these hard drives to ensure your organization's data remains confidential and protected from outside sources.
Today's enterprises need to take active steps to protect all of their digital assets, including their connected printers and scanners. By following these straightforward strategies when securing your print environment, you'll ensure that your organization reduces its attack surface while maximizing employee productivity and data security.