Two Shocking Security Risks Hidden Inside Your Office Printer

Life in the IT department or as CIO can often be a stressful one. Not only are you busy with piles of Help Desk tickets, budgets, and strategies. You’re also on the front lines of keeping your organization safe from hackers and cyberattacks. 

Your co-workers likely don’t know how much work goes into office security and keeping your data and information safe. Even those in IT can overlook major workplace security gaps.

Between online criminals constantly finding new ways to infiltrate networks and your packed schedule, it’s understandable. That doesn’t mean CIOs, CTOs, or other IT leaders have an excuse to get lax about keeping their printers and computers secure.

Many also people don’t realize printers a massive security risk. But in the IT department, it is your responsibility to keep your entire staff fully informed while keeping those devices sufficiently secured.  

Here are two major security risks commonly found in office printers, plus how you can business safe, secure, and one step ahead of the bad guys:

Keep Your Office Data Safe and Secure

Printers, scanners, copiers, and multi-function printers (MFPs) are all computers. So, also like computers, they contain hard drives filled with critical information that can be hacked and stolen. From printing out tax returns and W2 forms to copying confidential budgets or financial information, any document that goes through the machine can be a serious security risk.

To combat hard drive hacks, consider developing a hard-drive data-erase function to ensure that temporary data is erased and deleted documents aren’t accessible. HP Security Manager and other HP security software, tools, and products are especially great at keeping your documents safe.

You can also encrypt your hard drives with tools like BitLocker and VeraCrypt. These both will make your hard drives unreadable to anyone other than authorized parties. Just be sure that encryption is successful by creating unique encryption keys and storing them separately from encrypted data.

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Dangers of Using Mobile Print

Today, it’s possible to print from just about anywhere. Employees can connect their smartphone to the print network and have a document in hand seconds later. Remote workers also love the option of sending a job to print even their physically located far away from the office. 

Mobile print options are fantastically convenient. However, it opens up serious risks as well. Each connected device opens up a new point of entry for an eager hacker. And as many mobile devices aren’t properly secured, malicious cybercriminals are on the lookout for these exact opportunities. 

For example, an employee who’s connected to a mobile device prints a report via an app on her phone. Unbeknownst to her, the app developer has created a piece of malware that secretly infects the mobile device. From here, the malware attaches itself to a cloud print job and then makes its way to a  networked printer.

Once inside the printer, the hacker now has access to the business’ entire network, bypassing firewall and intrusion detection entirely. By the time anyone notices, it’ll likely be too late and damage has been done.

In all honesty, we often recommend avoiding mobile print altogether to maintain the utmost office security. However, it is possible to deploy it safely. 

First off, you need a strict, secure password policy and only allow certain employees to use the feature. A small convenience isn’t worth a potential security catastrophe. The fewer points of entry that exist, the better. 

It’s also essential to lock down data processes and always include printers in your network security strategies policies. Lastly, we strongly suggest using a program like HP SureStart and HP Whitelisting. These tools allow only approved files and users to access information. 

Print-related security breaches are a reality. Thankfully, by supporting a smart, proactive security strategy, they don’t have to be at your company.

Want a partner in helping your team maintaining the most secure workspace possible? Our experts would love to help! Let’s schedule a friendly, 15-minute consultation call to see if we’d be a great match.

Life in the IT department or as CIO can often be a stressful one. Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn and keep up with my company imageOne. Check out my website or some of my other work here.