5 Effective ways to protect your printers from cyberattacks and data breaches

5 Effective ways to protect your printers from cyberattacks and data breaches

When it comes to entry points for cyberattacks, business owners usually think of computers and routers. Did you know, however, that printers can also be exploited by cybercriminals to infiltrate your network?

In 2017, researchers found vulnerabilities in internet-connected printers that could have allowed hackers to steal passwords, hijack network printers, and remotely obtain soft copies of printed documents. And in 2020, printers were hijacked by a cybersecurity news website to raise awareness of printer security issues. The team targeted 50,000 printers that had internet-based printing features enabled, and was able to print out the message "This printer has been hacked!" on almost 28,000 devices.

Why do printer-related attacks happen?

Such attacks occur because many business owners overlook printers when assessing cyberthreats to their business, so they hardly invest in cybersecurity for these machines. This gives attackers an opportunity to use printers for their own gain.

According to a 2020 report by market insight firm Quocirca, 64% of businesses reported printer-related data loss. It also revealed that printer-related data breaches cost organizations an average of $1.6 million.

How can you protect your printers from cyberattacks and data breaches?

Here are some handy tips to try:

1. Make sure your printer is set up properly

First, change your printer’s default password as it may be easy for hackers to guess, like "admin123" or “12345678.” Use a passphrase or come up with a strong password containing symbols, numbers, and lower- and uppercase letters.

Also, always connect your printer to a secure Wi-Fi network. Use a firewall to prevent cybercriminals from accessing your printer through your Wi-Fi connection.

2. Keep printer software updated

Printer manufacturers regularly release security patches for printer software vulnerabilities, so make sure to install them as soon as they become available. This prevents cybercriminals from taking advantage of software bugs to access your IT system.

Related reading: How to properly maintain your office printers

3. Enable printer security features

Enable your printers' security features to keep cyberthreats at bay. Such features vary from printer to printer, depending on the manufacturer.

For instance, HP’s SureStart feature monitors for potential threats when your printers are turned on. If a threat is detected, SureStart will automatically turn off the printer. Meanwhile, Canon’s Encrypted Secure Print ensures that a document’s data is encrypted during transmission and storage to stop attackers from stealing sensitive information.

4. Enable pull printing

Pull printing allows your employees to send print jobs to an encrypted print queue. When they go to the printer, they need to enter a PIN code or swipe an ID card to authenticate their identity and print their document. This solution ensures that only authorized users can access and print certain documents, thereby avoiding data security leaks caused by unauthorized personnel.

5. Partner with a managed print services (MPS) provider

Many small businesses don’t have the resources to hire a full-time IT administrator who can manage all their printers. And if they do have one, the admin’s expertise may be limited.

This is where MPS providers like Complete Document Solutions come in. When you partner with us, we will prevent your printers from being exploited for cyberattacks. We will also implement access controls so that only authorized personnel can access your printers.

Finally, we will make sure that all your printers are functioning properly while reducing printing costs.

Complete Document Solutions provides all the managed print services your California business will ever need, from printer fleet management to document security. To learn more about what we can do for you, drop us a line today.


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