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Chapter 1: A Proactive Approach to Secure Printing

The world of office data security is constantly evolving.

As we develop new approaches to protecting our computer networks, hackers also become more sophisticated in their methods of breaking in.

Every time we successfully take our cybersecurity to the next level with the latest software and hardware technology, cyberattackers are given the next “nut” for hackers to crack.

It’s a constant battle, which is why it’s so important to be proactive when building a secure printing strategy. If you’re not, then the bad guys will always be at least a step ahead.

Data breaches cost your business time and money, and damage to your reputation. But perhaps most importantly, you and your customer’s valuable information can become exposed.

Whether it’s something as sophisticated as a hacker sneaking into your network system, or a confidential document found alone on your printer tray falls into the wrong hands, the damage is far-reaching.

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Despite desktop computers and laptops often coming to mind, printers, copiers, and scanners are often a company’s most vulnerable pieces of technological equipment. Still, they typically get less protection and security attention than other areas.

Ask yourself this:

  1. When did you last update your printer's hardware, software, and firmware?
  2. How often do your printers get serviced?
  3. Are you up to date with your printer’s security patches?
  4. How old are your printers? Are they too outdated to be patched?
  5. And the big one: can you honestly say that your office printers are under the same security scrutiny as your computers?

Most security breaches happen at an endpoint device on a network, like a printer. If you’re not confident in saying yes to question #4, then you’re vulnerable to a security breach.

Ultimately, there’s no better solution than working with an experienced managed print services (MPS) partner. The best providers will stay on top of the latest security trends and ensure that you’re up to date with the right software and hardware solutions that will keep your system secured. They’ll also build strategies that address your specific industry and company needs. After all, no two businesses or situations are identical.

Ready to boost your company's print strategy? Download our FREE Print Security Checklist!

Chapter 2: Is Your Office Print Secure or At-Risk?

Every day, we hear a new story about a big-name corporation or successful business owner falling victim to a major cyberattack. These stories send chills up our spines. If it happened to them, couldn’t it happen to us too?

Unfortunately, yes. As hackers and online criminals evolve to become savvier than ever before, they’re also learning new ways to sneak into our computer networks—and our company’s printers are no exception.

After all, printers, copiers, scanners, and multi-function devices are all computers too. They’re just given a lower security priority over more visible devices like desktop computers, laptops, and smartphones. However, they can be hacked just as easily, and the effects can create an impact that could significantly damage—or even destroy—your business.

But don’t let the threat of printer cyberattack keep you frozen in fear. Today, there are more ways than ever to protect and secure every print device in your office and keep them safe for good.



What Happens When Printers and Copiers Get Hacked? 

Neglecting printer cybersecurity is an easy way to put your company’s data at risk. Just think about how much sensitive information goes through those machines every day including customer contacts, tax forms, financial statements, budgets, confidential memos, medical information,  employee data, and more.

When malware is installed into your printer, hackers can easily intercept any and all of this data—and then who knows who’ll get their hands on it.

It’s not all through wired networks either. Sometimes, documents can be stolen wirelessly. So, if your office has the capability to print through a WiFi or wireless system, you’re likely more vulnerable than you think.

Without a proper security system, an unauthorized person can take control of the printer and its queue from nearly anywhere.

What is Shoulder Surfing?

There are more ways to steal information than through cyberspace. Attackers can gain access to a company’s data in analog ways too.

Sometimes, they will find a way to walk into an office building and physically search for opportunities to get onto your network or steal data. Especially in large companies with a high volume of employees, it’s relatively easy for someone to slip by unnoticed.

This is called “shoulder surfing.” Shoulder surfing is an observation technique where the criminal essentially looks over an employee’s shoulder and steals the information directly from their computer screen. Or, they can walk up to a printer with sensitive documents sitting in the tray and take the data for themselves.

Creepy, right? For these kinds of threats, it’s important for you to be conscious of who is around you. All employees must also be educated on proper security measures.

How Can I Protect My Office’s Printers?

We won’t lie. It’s a scary landscape when it comes to keeping your information secure. But we’re not here to terrify you. We're here to help! If you’re seeking to boost your company’s cybersecurity, there are plenty of tools, programs, and strategies that do a tremendous job of corporate data protection.

Hackers might be on the rise—but so is strong office network security technology.


Learn more about strengthening security at your business or workplace. Read our blog: How To Know If My Printer is Secure.

Chapter 3: Securing Your Office Copiers and Scanner Are Important Too

The terms printer, copier, and scanner are used pretty interchangeably in an office setting. However, scanners and copy machines are really made to do just that—duplicate documents and images. 

Multi-function printers (MFPs), however, have far greater capabilities: printing, scanning, and faxing. These modern office devices are connected to your network and can create automated workflows that increase productivity in the office.

Whether you’re using the term “copier” to describe your sophisticated MFP or really is just a basic copier, network security is paramount to protecting your data.

Unsure if your device needs to be secured? Then ask yourself if the device:

  • Connects to your network?

  • Uses a wireless or wifi connection?

  • Has a hard drive?

  • Has scanning and emailing capabilities?

If the answer is yes to any question, then you need a smart security strategy in place just like any other computer or printer. If you ever scan documents to your email, then that means it’s connected to your network and could be an entry point for hackers.

So, now you can see why copier security is very important.

Fortunately, the understanding of copiers, printers, and multi-function devices as security vulnerabilities—and the subsequent action taken to protect them—has grown in recent years.

However, there is still an overwhelming amount of companies, CIOs, and IT leaders who don’t have the right security methods in place.

Hackers know this and they are always looking for different ways to infiltrate your network and access data. If you're not treating your copiers, MFPs, scanners, and other devices on your network with the same importance as your computers, then you risk giving cyberattackers an easy way in.

Chapter 4: What is the Cost of a Data Breach at a Business?

If you’re like most IT leaders, simply hearing the words “data breach” is enough to keep you up at night. It’s every CIO’s worst nightmare and something that happens to even the biggest and seemingly most secure companies.

The cost of a data breach probably isn’t something you want to think about, but it’s critical that you’re fully aware of what could go wrong—and what’s at stake. Most importantly, you need to understand how to prevent it.

Here’s a startling statistic: the average cost of a data breach in the United States is $8.19 million!

On top of that staggering price, there’s also the headache of dealing with regulators, the PR nightmare, and the loss of trust with your customers. Needless to say, recovering from a hack can be difficult—if not impossible.

There’s also the potential that the attackers hold your data for ransom. In order to get it back, corporations must spend a substantial amount of money to recover that kidnapped data. 


Why You Need a Vulnerability Assessment

Performing a security and vulnerability assessment is key to ensuring your organization is protected from data breaches. Vulnerability assessments are essential for any organization, but too often printers on a network are overlooked.

The free 20-point assessment typically takes between 4-8 hours or about one business day. Some of the things we’ll look for is your current firmware, age of the devices, should be updated, open ports and protocols, hard drive encryption, etc.

If your company hasn’t performed any type of vulnerability assessment, it’s recommended that one be performed immediately.

Keeping your hardware up to date and maintained is an ongoing process to secure your network in a continuously changing environment. With continued assessments (at least once-a-year), you’ll be able to be sure that your network is protected from data breaches.  


Security Across All Industries

Regulations fall under different guidelines in security standards, depending on which industry you’re in. Financial institutions, for example, have a different set of requirements they have to meet, compared to healthcare organizations. If you’re not sure what your industry’s regulations are, you can search Google or check with a governing body.

Without protection, the impact of a data breach could be a heavyweight on your corporation. Your company’s data—and your customer’s data—could be stolen.

Having printing security in place—and keeping it continuously maintained—can help ensure that you won’t face the costly impact of a data breach. For more information, read our blog post, Printer Security Tips to Avoid the Cost of a Data Breach.  


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Chapter 5: What is a Security Assessment?

Now that we’ve talked about the reasons to get a security assessment, you’re probably wondering what it actually is, and why it’s so beneficial to your company. So, here’s an overview of what to expect after you sign-up for a security assessment.

After a short in-person or phone chat to verify that a security assessment is a right path forward, a print network security expert will come to your workplace and thoroughly analyze your current print environment.

During the analysis, they will identify both common and obscure printer vulnerabilities and evaluate your company’s network security risk level. Mostly, they’ll pinpoint if your current network security features and standards are up-to-date and well-monitored. 

They will also look to answer questions like:

  • Is the entire printer and copier fleet modern and secure?
  • Which print security software and firmware has been installed?
  • Have all mobile print devices been properly secured?
  • How is the printer and copier fleet being managed and monitored?
  • What actions are being taken to ensure optimal document security?

Then, they’ll take all of this information, analyze the data, and create an in-depth report along with recommendations. This will typically take between 4–6 weeks.

After the assessment results are completed and finalized, the security expert will deliver the results to the client and explain their findings in detail.

They’ll also offer detailed recommendations about how the company can better protect itself from cyberattacks and fully secure their networks. These recommendations often include print security software, employee education, hardware updates, device replacements, and more.

Then, you can take all the time needed to decide how to proceed. If you decide to follow some or all of the recommendations, then the print security expert will implement the next steps towards successfully optimizing and securing your office print environment.

Have more questions about print security assessments, or are you ready to get one done for your company? Then schedule your free security assessment now! 

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Chapter 6: How to Properly Secure Print Devices at the Office

We hear often from IT leaders that the challenge in building a secure printing environment isn’t the environment itself. It’s making sure that all employees follow proper print security protocols.

In the busy day-to-day hustle of an office, it can be tempting for people to take shortcuts. For people in customer service or accounting who don’t place the same emphasis on security that IT does, this can be a challenge many organizations struggle with.

There are two ways of thinking about printer security. The first is in the printing devices themselves. You want to make sure that you’re only using secure printers fully equipped to protect your network against modern security threats.

The second piece of security is in making sure that you’ve taken precautions to protect those printers once they're on your network and deployed into your environment.

These days, the majority of hacks are happening through what we call the Internet of Things (IoT). For example, hackers are getting into networks through smart devices like thermostats, security systems, cameras—and of course—printers.

Your IT team already has a lot on their plate, and security is obviously a big priority. However, the emphasis is usually placed on servers, firewalls, computers, etc., and printers often get forgotten. Hackers know this, and they’re always looking for the path of least resistance.

How Phishing Impacts Your Printers

Another recurring problem that we commonly see companies dealing with are phishing emails. Most companies have dealt with them, and you've probably had employee training about how to avoid phishing scams.

But what do phishing emails have to do with print? 

Let’s imagine a scenario where a hacker sends out a phishing email to a company with 1,000 employees. They’ve designed the email to make it look like it’s coming to someone inside the company complete with a generic, blanket statement like: “Happy Birthday!”

That email may not make sense for 90% of the people who get it as it’s nowhere near most people’s birthdays. But for the other 10% that do have an upcoming birthday, this may seem legitimate.

Within this email, there's a link in that says, "Hey! We just wanted to say happy birthday. Here's a link for a $30 gift card to your favorite restaurant.” All the user has to do is click on that link to open it, and they’ll receive a printable coupon. How nice, right?

As you can probably guess—not so much. If they print this coupon, what they've actually done is send a link through their network that’ll embed the office printer with malware and infect the entire company’s system. Pretty tricky, and very terrifying.

Again, there are many methods to combat these schemes including employee education and print security software. If your company has installed up-to-date, modern printers, and has a strong printer security strategy, this situation is very containable. However, if your business is still using print or copy devices that are over 5–7 years old, you could be at a higher risk.

Looking Forward

We’re starting to see a shift where companies are taking this more seriously and buckling down on printer security. It varies by company and industry, but the data breaches in the news are enough to make anyone leery.

Start optimizing your secure printing strategy today by checking out our blog post, If You're Wondering How to Secure Print, Here's Where You Should Start.

Chapter 7: Are Your Employees Sending Documents Securely?

Take a minute and think about how much paperwork is printed, scanned, stored, and shared at your office. It’s probably a lot, right? If your company is like most, almost all of your employees are using printers and sending documents on a daily basis.

That’s why it’s key to have a proper document security strategy in place. If your team members aren’t trained and equipped to send documents securely, it’s only a matter of time before sensitive data ends up in the wrong hands.

Outbound transmissions—sending to an email account or shared folder—are the most common form of transmission.

To ensure that the information is being sent to the intended recipients, there should be some form of authentication, along with a tracking mechanism that identifies who took that action. There should also be a record of whether it was electronic or converted to paper and whether the document was sent outbound or inbound within the organization.

Fortunately, many modern multi-function printers (MFPs) have security software and other measures built into them so that individuals are required to authenticate their credentials in order to print. This helps to ensure that there is tracking for any items that are printed and/or sent electronically.

Essentially, the software leaves an imprint of who sent the document, who received the document, and whether it was sent internally or outside of the organization. That way, if there was a breach, you have the data to find out what happened.

Automated security protocols and proper staff training must be put in place to ensure printer security. Setting up a security strategy is one thing, but ensuring that your employees carefully follow it for the long-term is another thing entirely.

Training your team to send documents securely—as well as keeping security features up-to-date—will help ensure that data is transmitted safely and doesn’t end up in the wrong hands! 








Chapter 8: The Best Document Security Software & Training Tools

By now, you get that cybercriminals will do whatever they can to exploit your systems and gain access to your devices. So, what exactly can CIOs, IT departments, network security experts, and employees do to combat these serious threats?

Though there are countless ways to enforce a secure network, here are a few of our favorite security tips, tools, and strategies to keep the workplace safe:

Print Security Software

One of our top programs for print security is called PaperCut. We regularly recommend that PaperCut be installed onto all printers, copiers, multifunction devices, and scanners as it’s incredibly effective at helping employees follow document security protocols. 



Though PaperCut has hundreds of capabilities, one great document security feature is a two-step authentication process, which is also called print release or pull print.

With two-step authentication, employees must approve each job TWICE before the document is actually pulled down from the cloud-based queue and printed out.

The user must okay it once at the computer and once at the device itself using a PIN or card swipe feature. This eliminates the risk of sensitive or confidential documents being left alone in the paper tray and ending up in the wrong hands. This also helps to reduce print waste and decrease your print costs.

HP also has fantastic secure print solutions including great security software and professional services. Many of them even come equipped with corporate-level security features, which come standard on all HP Enterprise series devices. We almost always suggest these machines for workplaces. 

A favorite of HP’s printer security features is called  HP Security Manager. It’s so effective that our team often calls it the “watchdog” of print network security.

HP Security Manager works by allowing your company to set custom security parameters and policies based upon your unique needs. Once in place, the program will send the assigned administrator an alert if any suspicious activities arise.

Often, these activities involve unauthorized users or devices, potential malware invading the network, or other unexpected occurrences.

At this point, the printer is usually set to go into “remediation” which will power down and then restart the flagged printer. After the device has been rebooted, HP Security Manager fully scans the device to make sure it’s now safe and compliant. If not, the next steps can be taken to combat any threats.

These are just a few of our favorite document security programs. If you’d like more insights on print security features, check out our Go-To Guide for Printers and Document Security.


Don’t Forget to Update

Always remember that for both PaperCut, HP Security Manager, and any other security software, hardware, firmware, or another program, installation isn’t a one-and-done process.

After the latest printer security software has been properly installed, you still must stay current with all recommended updates. These updates install new patches that will fix any newly discovered holes and vulnerabilities within the printer network. Failing to do so could leave you open to a major breach.


Print Security Employee Training

Even some of the best employees make grave mistakes due to one huge management oversight—a lack of regular and proper security education.

When executing a robust document security strategy, you must train everyone on proper practices and procedures. After all, even the best software and IT tech can only do so much.

Every employee should be expected to be on the frontlines of corporate security. With a growing emphasis on printer and document security, there are also more ways to teach your team how to keep their company safe from cyberattacks.

One idea is to conduct a mandatory course, likely run by the IT team, that all employees must attend while onboarding. Then, employees should also attend periodic refresher courses every year or two. Some companies also hire third-party instructors to cover workplace security best practices.

There are also several online training courses like KnowBe4 that are available. These paid courses cover corporate security topics in-depth. Though likely more expensive than giving an in-office course, it may still pay off in the long run as it frees up employee time and allows for more flexibility.

Now that you better understand where your company’s printers are most vulnerable—and how you can protect them—you can comfortably stay one step ahead of the bad guys. 

Are you ready to take your printer and document security to the next level? We’d love to help!

Schedule your complimentary security assessment for your workplace today!