Business printers are usually the last in a long line of physical and digital IT assets to protect against hackers, after your computers, servers and databases. Precisely because they’re so overlooked, printer cybersecurity is often lacking and provides a gateway for bad actors looking to breach your network. Cybersecuring your whole network means securing your whole technology stack, and connected but unnoticed hardware equipment can create shadow IT holes in your security plan.
Here are the steps your business must take to ensure your printers are protected against hackers:
What Makes Business Printers So Vulnerable to Cyber Attack
Desktop computers, laptops and servers are much more noticeable in cybersecurity assessments because they are often the biggest vector for cyber attack. Printers are often at the bottom of the list for review since they are typically not prime targets, especially with how many older models companies employ. However, even some legacy business printers are increasingly being modified for wireless connections, and that means they are connected to your larger network.
This is in and of itself, a significant attack surface expansion, but the purpose of printers also make them a critical overlooked vulnerability Businesses run important documents such as tax forms, employee information, medical records, and financial statements through print devices, and hackers would definitely love to get their hands on them.
Network printers store previous print jobs in their hard drive, sometimes including those that have been canceled. If anyone accesses the printer — even remotely — they may be able to see those documents by hacking into the printer using a specialized tool.
Files can also be intercepted during wireless transmission, as modern printers can now be connected to the web. Not only can hackers exploit printers’ open network ports to view data, but they can also take over vulnerable printers and transmit their own data through the machine.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Business Printers from Hackers
Business printers should not be disregarded when planning a cybersecurity strategy. Keep your print devices secure by following these best practices:
- Monitor your network continuously and promptly install printer software updates and patches. Printer manufacturers often release software support or updates, so regularly check for those.
- Change the default password and administrator login credentials of printers with web management capabilities.
- Only allow company-owned devices to connect to your printers.
- Always connect to your printers using secure connections. Conversely, avoid accessing your printers through a public internet connection.
- Restrict printer access by using a firewall.
- If your wireless printer has the feature that requires users to enter a PIN before they can print documents, enable it to prevent unauthorized access.
- If you don’t use your printer for fax and email, isolate your printer from your main company network and disable out-of-network printing.
- If you handle classified data, do not connect your printer to any network. Instead, connect it directly to your computer using data cables, or print from a thumb drive.
- Secure your printouts by enabling manual feed. This setting requires a user to manually input paper (or any material to be printed on), so there are reduced risks of the printed document getting stolen or being left in the printing area.
Contact SWK Technologies to Secure Your Business Printers
Engaging an experienced managed IT service provider is also a great way to ensure your business printers and other mission-critical assets are protected around the clock. SWK Technologies is an award-winning MSP that can protect your devices and IT infrastructure on-premise or in the cloud, and we monitor your devices regularly for cyber threats.
Contact SWK today to learn more about protecting your printers and other network assets.