Watch Out For This Overlooked Threat In Your Business

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

With the risk of being hit by hacking, malware, and other forms of cyber-crime so high, most organizations go to great lengths (and expense) to protect their networks and infrastructure.

However, one major security risk that’s being overlooked is the printer!

All too often, print falls beyond IT teams’ field of view and is left hanging in an abyss ready and waiting for hackers to take advantage.

Here are some interesting statistics: According to research that was conducted by the Ponemon Institute, 64 percent of IT managers are suspicious that their printers have been infected with some form of malware; however, just 54% of organizations include printers in their security strategy.

With organizations placing all eyes firmly on network security, the major threats that are posed by printing devices that are directly connected to these networks are all too often completely overlooked.

So, what actions can you take to reduce the risk of print-related breaches?

Monitor your print devices
Regardless of how many printers are connected to the network, keep tabs on every single one. You can make this job easier by using remote management software.

Utilize pull printing
Also known as “follow-me printing,” this security technique holds a print job on the server until the person who executed the print command is physically present at the printer and authenticates themselves using a card or code.

This reduces the risk of sensitive documents being left unattended in the print room.

Encrypt data
Did you know that most printers and multi-function devices contain a hard drive where your print jobs and copies are stored?

In many cases, years of images and print jobs are retained on this drive, and can easily be read by hackers or criminals when the machine is removed from service.

You need to protect your documents and ensure they are always stored on secure hard drives. Consider fitting your printers with hard drive encryption functionality to prevent data from being stolen.

Include print in the overall security strategy
As printers are connected to your network, they should form an integral part of your security strategy. Ensure they are protected in the same way you would protect any other device on the network.

Follow data protection mandates
When it comes to printers, user behavior represents a critical threat. Develop a clear security policy and ensure it is followed across the organization.