Cybersecurity is a hot topic for many businesses around the world. With the COVID-19 pandemic having many more people working from home and utilizing more digital tools, cyberattacks have seen a 40% increase year-over-year. Small business owners, managers, and employees are right to be concerned about security but many may be missing a major potential threat sitting right there on the floor of the office: the printer.
With so much talk about phishing, ransomware, and other cybersecurity concerns; it’s easy to unintentionally look past some other serious security concerns. The reality is that modern printers are connected devices just like laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Like those devices, printers are just as much a security risk if left unchecked. Plus, there are less technical risks that printers also face as they can read and produce physical media as well as digital media.
Understanding the security risks of printers is an important part of print management for any small business.
Access to Print Data
Think about all of the information that passes through an office printer. Documents are scanned into network drives, copied for meetings, and printed throughout the day. Many of these documents could contain sensitive information including customer data, employee information, and confidential business information. Having documents get into the wrong hands could prove to be damaging to the small business and potentially the customers they serve as well.
Print data can be accessed maliciously in a couple of different ways. The first way is very low-tech but perhaps one of the most serious security risks for printers. This is simply accessing physical data left at the printer which should not be shared. An example could be someone sending a job to the printer and forgetting about it, leaving the document in the print tray for anyone to grab. This could be an outsider or even someone within the business who was not authorized to view the documents in question.
Another way print data can be accessed is by viewing the data stored on the printer’s memory. While the document may not physically be available to access, it’s information may be stored and viewed by unwanted parties.
Both of these scenarios can be resolved with proper security protocols in place including access codes to release print jobs, passwords for accessing the printer’s memory, and regular deletion of files on the printer’s memory. All of the above are essential parts of any good print management strategy.
Cyberattacks on Printers
As mentioned, printers are connected devices and face many of the same risks as any other device connected to the internet. If a hacker finds a way to access a printer, they have an access point to the entire network the printer is connected to. They may view or steal print data, deploy malware, or use the printer as a jumping off point to breach other devices or impair the network.
Much like a laptop, a printer needs to be checked to see if there are new security updates, have updates installed, and be replaced if a manufacturer is no longer supporting the platform. It’s easy to think of a printer as a standalone device but it really is a part of the overall network ecosystem within a small business and needs to secured as such.
Concerns with the Cloud
Cloud printing has become a very common feature of many multifunction printers. This feature has proven to be especially useful as more people work remotely or use other devices like smartphones and tablets to do their work. However, there are some challenges with cloud printing.
One example of this would simply be the number of cloud storage services that exist and can be integrated into many connected printers. The device sending the print job may be secure, the printer itself may be secure, but the cloud service could pose a risk and expose data.
Choosing a cloud service and standardizing that choice across the business can help reduce the risks from cloud printing. Disabling other cloud services that are not being used by the business can also help provide some additional security.
No Stress with Print Management
Print management includes a wide range of services and supports for a small business looking to get the most out of their print devices. The security of a printer is one very important aspect of the overall print management experience. To learn more about this service, contact the print and small business experts at CDS Office Technologies today.