Copiers and printers can be at risks for loss of company data. Modern machines have hard drives on them, which can lead to data breaches or other kinds of theft. Private documents can be downloaded and in some cases, print activity can be rerouted, or hackers can get access to a network through printing software. All of the most feared types of malware, Trojans, DDoS attacks, spear phishing and ransomware can apply to the data that gets generated by print jobs or run through your printer queue.
Here are five ways to secure your printers and copiers:
1. Disconnect Printers and Copiers
When you unplug these machines from the Internet, the potential for hacking activity goes way down. The only way hackers can practically access disconnected printers and copy machines is physically. However, this also detracts from efficiency of operations. Think about whether an offline strategy is a net positive for your business.
2. User Access Controls
Another way to protect printers and copiers is through specific user access controls. Creating user accounts with different privileges restricts access and prevents unauthorized parties from using printers and copying machines for malicious attacks. Look at the field of Identity and Access Management (IAM) to see what vendors have available to help.
3. Firmware and Settings
In many cases, printers can guard themselves from various types of hacking using the firmware built into their operating systems. There's also a potential to use a network firewall to keep out malicious activity related to accessing the data that printers share with other elements of a network. Think of this as a “perimeter approach” where you build a stronger barrier against incoming hacking activity. Cybersecurity firms can also help with firewall calibration and cloud security to keep your printer and copier data safe.
4. Network Segmentation
This overall security principle is very valuable when it comes to protecting sensitive data.
Network segmentation involves walling off various parts of the network and making them separate from one another. This increases security capacity. For instance, if printing equipment is on a different segment of the network than another that handles much of the public traffic, it's harder for hackers to infiltrate that printer network.
In enterprise, network segmentation has become a best practice precisely because it stymies hacking efforts so well. Look at your overall SOA and see if a segmentation or isolation approach can help.
5. Overarching Cloud Service Models
More and more companies are utilizing third-party vendor products to direct their networks. All sorts of smart enterprise network setups will automate printer and copy machine security the same way that they automate other types of network security. Look into what vendors can offer to keep a network safe and secure. A cloud solutions setup can provide encryption at the point of egress, and a secure tunnel on either side of the client/vendor pathway.
Think about whether any of these strategies can keep your printing data safer. Investing in printer and copier security helps your company to mitigate risk, protect systems and guard against data breaches and other catastrophes, while still allowing the print projects that you need to get business done.