In our previous post, we busted common IT security myths and told you what to prioritize when protecting your IT department, your employees and your clients. Making sure your IT processes are strong, your employees are educated in best practices and your company is up-to-date on IT trends can help prevent a cybersecurity disaster.

But what happens when Karen from finance drops the ball? Here are three real-life print security scares that have affected companies like yours and the lessons to learn so you can avoid the same fate.

Scare #1: College campus printers mysteriously print hateful fliers

In March of this year, racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay fliers began appearing in printer trays on college campuses from the University of Maine all the way to UC Berkeley. Why colleges? The hacker who claimed responsibility gave no particular reason, other than that he wanted to send the fliers to all publicly accessible printers, and a lot of them happened to be on college campuses. An easily accessible printer may be convenient, but at what cost?

The lesson: Secure printing starts before a user ever hits ctrl+P. Sensitive information should only be sent to a printer over an encrypted wireless network. Because your multifunction printer may save digital copies of anything you’ve printed, scanned or faxed on its hard drive, if anyone can make use of your printer via the internet, they may be able to access those documents as well.

Scare #2: 134 million personal credit and debit cards are exposed by spyware

All too often, we read reports of huge businesses suffering data breaches, exposing the personal information of customers and causing widespread headaches. You probably heard about Heartland Payment Systems’ infamous breach back in March 2008. An SQL injection was used on the payment processor’s network to install spyware and expose information from 134 million personal credit and debit cards used at retailers serviced by Heartland. The kicker: experts had been warning of the threat of SQL injections for years in advance, yet Heartland and other companies remained vulnerable. What does this have to do with print? Devices connected to the network are just as hackable as printers and phones, and your printers’ hard drives contain valuable information on your employees and your business.

The lesson: Unsecured printers can compromise client and employee data, so make sure you install security protocols around them as well. Your multifunction printer, connected to your network, is just as susceptible to these potential breaches, and all of the sensitive information you’ve printed, scanned or faxed is at the risk of being exposed. Listen to the experts—their warnings are not unwarranted.

Scare #3: 90 percent of European enterprises suffer data loss through uncollected documents

In a 2014 Quocirca study, the vast majority of European enterprises surveyed (a cool 90 percent) said they suffered at least one data loss through documents that were simply left on a printer tray or picked up by an unintended party. This means sensitive information was left out in the open to be viewed by individuals who lacked the authorization to access that information.

The lesson: Uncollected papers must be managed. When handled properly, not only will your company’s sensitive information remain secure and confidential, but your company will limit avoidable (and embarrassing) financial and legal mishaps as well as reduce waste. Try investing in a pull-print technology—it requires users to be at the printer to confirm any print job before they can receive it, so you know they’re always around to pick it up.

In short, your printers are (perhaps unexpectedly) sources of security concerns, and you have the opportunity to learn from the past missteps of others. Making sure your printer is secure and establishing printout collection policies are simple ways to avoid a mention in the next data breach headline.

Wondering what unsecure, publicly accessible printers and uncollected documents are costing your company? Download our new eBook, 10 Steps to Finding Your True Printing Costs, to learn more about where you should be looking more closely into your company’s printing practices.

Download here

Photo credit: LoboStudioHamburg via Pixabay

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