Almost every office that is worth any respect has a printer. It is essential for producing the much-needed hard copies of important information that is stored in office computers. However, very few people while coming up with a security strategy for their office network ever stop to think that their printers may also pose a security threat.
So you know about the dangers of hackers getting into your computer network and the risks they pose to your company, but your printer, really?
The fact is that your printer can pose a security threat to the organization in many ways. Some of them are quite obvious, such as the possibility of an employee sending some highly sensitive information to be printed out, and then not picking it up immediately, leaving it there for any curious person to see.
Some other threats do not really pose that much of a security risk to the organization per se, but they are a nuisance and can be costly to the organization. Take, for instance, someone taking advantage of the wireless connection in your office to spend spam and other related material to your printer, to print it out, using your ink and paper in the process!
One threat that you do not think about as well, and which could possibly cause your organization the most harm is the fact that your printer stores the information it prints on its hard disk. If a hacker were somehow able to access this, then they would have access to all the business information that was printed out by the printer.
Another scary thing to contemplate is the fact that most printers nowadays have a wireless network connection. If a hacker could somehow get himself or herself connected, they could intercept the messages being sent to the printer.
How to keep your company safe
So now that you understand that you need to put security measures in place with your printer just as much as you need to do so with your computer, how do you go about doing it?
The security measures you put in place will depend on the kind of threats that you are exposed to. If you have a wireless network for your printer for example, avoid interception of print jobs sent to your printer by securing it with WPA2.
You can also reduce the risk of unwanted information being sent to your printer by setting up permission controls. Sure, this may be inconveniencing for the workers, but weighing it against the alternative, which is losing plenty of ink and paper, and having to deal with offensive messages, it just might be the better option.
In addition, just as it is with computers, your printer will be much better protected if you keep it up to date with the latest software as well. Software updates are usually intended to cover up patches that the developers have noticed in the code that cause the software not to run as efficiently as it ought. Covering up these patches by updating your software especially where they had to do with security lapses will make your printer much more secure.
The facts that print jobs are usually stored on the printer’s hard disk pose one of the greatest risks to your organization. Make your printer more secure by selecting the option of having the print jobs saved on the printer’s RAM only if possible, so that the information is erased whenever the printer is switched off.
If you are not able to do this with your printer, you can still secure your information by ensuring it is well encrypted with a good encryption method. Disable the “reprint” function on your printer as well to avoid people reprinting sensitive information. To make sure that your employees do not send print jobs to the printer then leave them sitting there, go for a printer that will require them to manually enter a password or put in their ID before it can print out the work, to ensure that the person is actually there when the work is produced.
Do not allow your company to remain at risk, secure your printer today!
Chad is an IT consultant whose experience in the field has taught him there’s more to printers and printer cartridges than most others would think!