3 Ways to Make Your Printers More Secure
by Stephanie Faris on Monday, December 12 6:00
Businesses put a great deal of time and effort into ensuring their files and applications remain safe. They even put serious resources toward securing their mobile devices and computers. But when it comes to the printers that are usually scattered around their office spaces, companies put little thought into the security risks they face.
In recent years, printers have become increasingly more sophisticated, building in features not seen in previous decades. Multi-function printers are especially vulnerable to attack, since they house a large amount of data. Here are a few things you can do to keep your network infrastructure safe from a printer-level attack.
Destroy Hard Drives
Every printer eventually reaches its end of life. When that happens, businesses all too often opt to simply donate the equipment or take it to a recycling facility. Unfortunately, if the printer is sent to its new location with the hard drive intact, sensitive information will likely be housed on it. This could include employee or customer contact information, social security numbers, credit card data, or other information that can be dangerous if intercepted. Instead of offloading equipment, businesses should first remove the hard drive and destroy it using the most secure method possible. Experts recommend a two-stage process that includes first degaussing the drive before running it through a professional hard drive shredder.
Block Internal Issues
The biggest threat to a business s security comes from inside its own walls. This includes printer security. Printers should be password protected to avoid non-employees being able to access them. Each work unit should have its own dedicated printer, with only those employees allowed to use it. This ensures that if an internal issue ever arises, it can be easily traced to the group that had access to that device. For employees that share a printer, consider setting each print job to only print once the person is at the printer and enters a code to release it. You can also mandate a blank cover page be generated at the start of each print job to avoid workers accidentally seeing information they shouldn t see, since the cover page will alert them that the current print job isn t theirs.
Block External Attacks
The same security you apply to your servers, computers, and mobile devices should be applied to your printers. Watch for security warnings on your printer models and regularly patch firmware to address any known issues. Any printers that are likely to contain sensitive data should be segmented on the network along with any other critical systems you have. Also consider registering each device with its manufacturer and setting it up to get automatic updates, which will give you the latest security patches as soon as they re available.
Printing remains an important part of day-to-day business activities. With a few extra precautions, you can keep your infrastructure safe without sacrificing the convenience of having the best multifunction printers on the market. As you review your business s security policies, add printers into your plans and you ll come up with a plan you can regularly revisit as you update your other policies.