Hackers know your printers’ vulnerabilities—do you?

October 16, 20172 Minute Read

When you first became interested in tech, did you look at a printer and think, “Man, that thing’s just begging to be hacked”? IT managers frequently overlook printers as a primary security risk, but they can be a hidden target for cyber attacks and internal threats. Follow these steps to avoid being the next company suffering a major breach due to simple security vulnerabilities:

1. Review your security policy

The first step to improving your network’s print security is to review your existing security policy and make sure all your current procedures—and stakeholders—are aligned. Based on this review, you can determine the size and scope of your security needs. Ponemon’s “The State of SMB Cybersecurity” found that 65 percent of SMBs with password policies don’t even enforce them, so we’ve got a lot of work to do here.

2. Make note of every connected device

Cloud Security Alliance found that only 8 percent of companies understand the scope of shadow IT at their businesses. That’s a whole lot of room for potentially tragic error. What’s worse is we’re to blame: 70 percent of millennials admitted to bringing unapproved apps into work despite IT policies, according to WIRED.

What’s crucial to keep in mind when reviewing your current policy is to ensure every device touching your network—from smart vending machines and connected coffee makers to printers and PCs—is known and configured for security. Otherwise, you risk compromising the entire system. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

3. Assess your network vulnerabilities

Prioritize your security strategies considering how printers are used in your business. A Spiceworks survey of more than 300 IT pros uncovered that only 16 percent consider printers high risk for security threats and breaches. Ask yourself:

  1. Who in your organization prints confidential documents and customer data?
  2. Are you able to track who scans and faxes from multifunction prints (MFPs)?
  3. Are you able to set and maintain the security configuration of your prints?
  4. Do users print from mobile devices?
  5. Are sensitive print jobs left exposed at the printer?

4. Protect your devices, data, and documents

Print security goes beyond configuring the printer. Your plan needs to include assessing the data that travels to and from the printer, plus sensitive information in hard-copy documents. Did you know a whopping 91 percent of visual hacking attempts are successful? Monitoring and managements tools can help you identify vulnerabilities and establish a unified, policy-based approach to reducing risk and strengthening compliance.

Are your printers vulnerable to attack? Take the HP Secure Print Analysis survey.

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