Technology has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years. Everything seems to have got smarter, and your printer is no exception.
You can print directly from your phone or tablet, limiting the need for a laptop or computer. Many are wireless so that you can print from another room with no cables involved. They can connect to the internet, printing photos and documents directly from the Cloud and other sharing platforms.
But this also brings some security issues. In December 2018, there was a worldwide printer hack urging those affected to subscribe to the YouTuber PewDiePie, but also improve their security. It was the latest in a long line of attacks, and they warned that they have the power to damage the devices.
You may secure your computers thoroughly, but printers are often neglected. Whether it be malicious or just for fun, data breaches are no laughing matter, so it is worth being aware of what can happen, and how to sort them.
The Most Common Printer Security Breaches
Many printers are now constantly connected to the internet, making them ready to go at short notice from anywhere and by anyone. This also means they could be accessed by people who aren’t meant to. Dated printers could be more susceptible, especially if they haven’t been updated in a while.
Through this, hackers could access the wider network – which includes computers. Admin settings may also be changed. Data could be stolen or even viewed, so ensure the system is as closed as possible and that security settings are high.
Do you know who has access to the printer? Are you able to view this, what has been printed and how much use it is getting? If not, then anything could be printed or scanned. Try to keep everything closed, and access the settings periodically so you can weed out any suspicious activity.
Some printers will keep a memory of all documents that have passed through their system. This data will be there until it is erased, which is great for any accidental deletions or repeat print needs. But not so great for security.
A hacker could access the information, or somebody could print off all previous documents. If you have printed off sensitive items, such as P45s or even scanned in passports, then this data could get into the wrong hands.
Wireless Communication Risks
We have all done it. You are sat at your desk, and the first printer which comes up is the one we send the document to. When you go to collect it, there is nothing there. Where has it gone?
Best case scenario, the print hasn’t actually printed so that you can cancel without any issues. Worst is that it is somewhere you didn’t intend it to be.
Try to name the printer, ensure everyone knows where to send their documents and let you know if there are any problems as soon as they happen.
Printer Trays Unattended
One that doesn’t need any technology to be carried out. If a colleague has left a document in the printer tray for a little while, this could be picked up by someone who isn’t intended to see it. Guests or even other colleagues may view or collect them, even if it is by accident. Encourage everyone to grab their sheets as soon as possible, and keep the tray relatively empty at all times to minimise risks.
What Can I Do About These Risks?
- Update to the latest software, which could improve security levels. Modern software often has to take into consideration the latest threats
- Conduct a list of who should have access and that there are no suspicious connections
- Check what has previously been printed and ensure nothing suspicious or unrelated to the company has been printed, which could signal the connection is too open
- Secure the entire network. Don’t just stop at the printers, but ensure all computers and other devices are closed so if there is a breach, it doesn’t extend
- Brief staff and users over the best practices and any updates you have made
- It could be worth bringing in a specialist who can assess your particular needs and suggest changes
You may wish to update things, which could improve security. The more modern the product, the more secure it may be when considering current threats. All of the printers we have reviewed are modern and from brands which can be trusted.