How to protect your printer or multifunction device from hackers and cyber attacks

How to protect your printer or multifunction device from hackers and cyber attacks

Companies spend resources to keep their technology and devices secure, but often overlook a critical piece of hardware: printers. Printers, just like computers and Wi-Fi networks, can be an entry point for hackers and a gateway to your company’s confidential information.

Here’s what you need to know about printer security.

Even if you haven’t thought about securing your printer or multifunction device at all yet, I’m sure you’ll discover some tips here.

One thing in advance: much of this can be solved automatically with modern IT management tools, or only requires a skilful basic setup.

What makes printers and multifunction devices vulnerable to cyberattacks??

When assessing network security threats, organizations focus primarily on servers and computers, not only because they are most exposed to external threats, but also because they receive the bulk of cyberattacks. Printers are often at the bottom of the list as they are not the main targets. In addition, their tasks seem to be internal at first glance, since they do not interact with external systems.

But it’s precisely because of their primary functions, printing and scanning, that printing devices are the perfect targets for cybercriminals. Companies run important documents like tax forms, employee information, medical records and financial reports through printing devices, and hackers would definitely like to get their hands on them.

And they can do it – just like that:

Many network printers store previous print jobs on their hard drive, sometimes even those that were canceled. If someone accesses the printer, even remotely, they may be able to view these documents by hacking into the printer with a special tool.

Files can be intercepted even during wireless transmission, as modern printers can now be connected to the Internet. Hackers can not only exploit the open network ports of printers to view data, but they can also take over vulnerable printers and transmit their own data through the device.

What can you do to protect your printers?

Business printers should not be ignored when planning a cybersecurity strategy. Keep your pressure equipment safe by following these best practices:

  • Monitor your network continuously and install printer software updates and patches promptly. Printer manufacturers often release software support or updates, so check for them regularly.
  • Change the default password and administrator credentials of printers with web management capabilities.
  • Only allow company-owned devices to access your printers.
  • Always connect to your printers via secure connections. Conversely, avoid accessing your printers via a public Internet connection.
  • Restrict printer access by using a firewall.
  • If your wireless printer has a feature that requires users to enter a PIN before they can print documents, enable this feature to prevent unauthorized access.
  • If you don’t use your printer for fax and email, isolate your printer from your main corporate network and disable printing outside the network.
  • If you work with confidential data, do not connect your printer to any network. Instead, connect it directly to your computer via data cables, or print from a USB stick.
  • Secure your prints by enabling manual feeding. This setting requires the user to manually feed the paper (or any material to be printed on), reducing the risk of the printed document being stolen or left in the print area.

Another way to secure your printers is to work with an IT service provider who can take care of your printer-related needs. From defending against attacks to reducing administrative costs to maintaining your printer’s optimal functionality, our experts can help.

Are you interested in learning more about cyber security? Call us today and discover how our wide range of technical services can protect your business.

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Jens Hagel - Managing Director hagel IT-Services GmbH

Founder and owner of the company hagel IT-Services GmbH. Naturally passionate about technology and always looking for improvements.

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