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Common Print Security Threats To Watch Out For

How secure is your print environment? Explore five of the top security concerns when considering printers in the workplace.
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Think about how many secure documents pass through the printers in your business. Without sound safety measures in place, you could be putting your company and clients at risk.

Below, we’ll review the top five risks printers can bring to the workplace, and we’ll give some helpful tips about how to make sure you’re protected.

1. Document theft or snooping

Let’s start with the most basic threat to privacy when it comes to printers—document theft or snooping. In a busy office environment, it’s easy for employees to forget when they’ve printed something or leave a document on the glass of their printer. Beyond this, if your company uses special paper to print sensitive documents (prescription paper, for example), the unprinted paper in the tray could pose a risk.

How to prevent the issue: Printers should be physically located in a secure place—a private room or area where they can be locked away is a good start, but otherwise be sure that they are near someone trustworthy who can keep an eye on people who use the machine.

The hardware you use can also help you keep prying eyes at bay. For example, some printers come with tray locks that require a physical key to open them, limiting the number of people who can access sensitive papers. Other print solutions, like these offered by HP, will only allow a person to pick up a document from a specified printer if they have an access code or security badge.

2. Unauthorised changes to printer settings

Printers are complex pieces of technology, with a range of settings that allow businesses to customise them to their needs. Many of these settings are tied directly to security.

When set up properly, settings can go a long way to protecting sensitive data. However, tampering with these settings can expose the machines to security breaches. Whether these settings are altered accidentally by an employee or intentionally by a malicious actor, unauthorised changes can be a big problem.

How to solve the issue: First and foremost, let a professional put the settings in place when you install a new machine. This may be someone from your IT department, or a professional who works for the printer hardware provider. Most sophisticated printers can require authentication codes in order to make any changes to settings.

3. Saved copies on an internal storage drive

Have you ever wondered what happens to a document after it’s been printed or scanned? You may think that once the print-out is collected the data is deleted—but you’d be wrong. Many printers store copies of documents internally. This means that even after an employee collects their items, the data on said documents is still vulnerable if the machine is accessed by a malicious party.

How to solve the issue: If you need to store your information internally on the printer, then it’s vital to have processes in place to make sure the data is secured and routinely cleaned out. A better solution, however, is to use secure pull printing; this process allows data to be stored on a secure network in the cloud or on a personal computer, rather than on the printer itself. If you don’t need the data that’s being stored, consider enlisting a service that allows for remote erasing (meaning you will be 100% certain the data is gone).

4. Sniffing network printer traffic

When employees are sending documents from a computer or mobile device to the print hardware, they may be putting their data at risk while it’s in transit. Hackers who have gained access to a network via malware may be able to exploit these documents, downloading them to their own device or server. This technique, known as sniffing, can lead to data leaks and other security risks.

How to solve the issue: Encryption, encryption, encryption! It’s important you encrypt all data, both while it’s in transit and wherever you choose to store it once it’s arrived at its destination (in this case, a printer). You can also use programs like HP Jet Advantage to make it easy for employees to print securely via mobile devices, even when they’re not at the office.

5. Printer hacking via the network

In a similar vein to network sniffing, bad actors can access secure data by hacking your printer itself. They can do this by installing malware on your company’s network. If that network is connected to the printing hardware, then voila—they’ve now got access to all of the data passes through that printer. They can even potentially use the printer to remotely print or copy documents. In other words, this can be a big threat to your company security.

How to solve the issue: First and foremost, you should be sure your employees have training around recognizing hacking attempts like email phishing. On top of that, you need to have professionals who are regularly monitoring your print hardware for security vulnerabilities. Many printers have built-in software that also scans for security threats and issues regularly, which can give you the peace of mind you need in the workplace.

If you aren’t sure whether your print environment is secure, now is the time to get in touch with CSG’s print professionals. We can assess any vulnerabilities and put strong measures in place. Through our range of HP solutions, we offer some of the most secure printing technology on the market—so get in touch today to get your systems where they need to be.