TechsPlace | Cyber attacks are on the rise; this means businesses are more vulnerable and at risk, than they’ve ever been before. Businesses of all sizes are focusing on network security and doing what they can to keep their network and computing devices secure. But there’s one central security feature that many businesses overlook – their network printers.
Printers these days are more than just printers – they’re used for scanning and emailing, faxing, and copying. Printers are also being configured so they can print from almost anywhere using not just laptops and desktop computers, but smartphones and tablets as well. All of these printing features may be great for your business, but if not protected like the rest of your computing network, printers can be a big security risk to your company.
This is why hiring a tech support firm is more important than ever for both start-up businesses and larger companies. Here are just a few of the ways that you can minimize the security risk of your printers.
Manage User Access
User access to printers is a big part of printer security. Consider assigning printer permissions to your employees so you can control and manage who is allowed to print. You can give one user full printer management, printing, emailing, and scanning access. Another user may only need access to print and scan, and yet a third user can be set up with no printing capabilities at all.
To set up printer permissions, use the printer control panel. One way you can secure printing access is by giving users a PIN number. Every time they want to use the email or scanning function, they’ll need to enter their PIN. This limits what users can do and prevents anyone without proper authorization from sending sensitive and confidential information to email addresses outside of your business.
Turn Off Printer Protocols
You can mitigate the risk to your data by turning off unnecessary services on your printers such as HTTP, FTP, and Telnet. Some printers have these protocols and services on by default. Leaving protocols enabled and turned on is one of the biggest security risks to your network printers. Hackers may be able to scan through the information and data stored on the hard drive of the printer. And even if your business doesn’t have a confidential customer or client data, much of your business information and operation may now be at risk.
Update Latest Firmware
What is firmware? Firmware is the operating system of the printer that executes instructions for printing, scanning, and faxing. Every printer comes with firmware already installed, so when you first purchase your printer the security will be up to date.
All printer manufacturers regularly update the firmware on their printers, providing their customers with the latest security patches for found vulnerabilities. Firmware updates may have fixes for these known security issues, or they may just be an update of the latest version of the printer software. No matter the reason for the update, to keep your printers secure, be sure that you download when they become available. If your printer firmware is out of date, you’re at risk for a security breach. Most printer manufacturers will have at least one firmware update in the first 6 months to a year after purchase.
Keeping Documents Secure
It’s not just the printer itself that’s a vulnerable security risk: the documents printed by users are also at risk. Users often send confidential and sensitive information to the printer and then forget they printed, leaving documents unclaimed for anyone to pick up. If you have multiple printers on your network, users often print to the wrong printer, giving other users access to confidential data. Both these scenarios can be a violation of trust with your customers and clients when it comes to data protection.
Once the solution to protect data is to use the “pull print” method of printing. After sending information to the printer, users will need to have a smart card or key in a PIN number that corresponds with their print job before they can remove the document from the output tray. This ensures confidential information isn’t accessed by unauthorized users.
A good security measure to protect data that’s being passed between your employee computers and network printers is to encrypt data. Print files are sent first to your network server before they’re sent on to the printer. As the file travels through the network, information is at risk. Encryption keeps data secure, so it’s captured by the printer and securely processed. Hire a tech support team to help securely set up your printers and a layer of encryption for protection.
Keep Network Printers to a Minimum
Does everyone in your business need to have access to a network printer? While a network printer is ideal for multiple users to access, they’re also more of a security risk for your business. Consider minimizing security risk by keeping some printers off the network and giving employees their own local printer. Printers are connected directly to the computer, allowing only one user to print, eliminating the risk of confidential information falling into the wrong hands.
Replace Old Printers
New printers not only have updated features and functions that your business needs, but they’re also faster and more efficient. Newer printers are also designed with enhanced security functions that can keep cyber criminals off your network.
Whether you’re a start-up company or have been well established for a few years, security is something you need to take very seriously. A recent study in 2017 shows that 70 percent of consumers will stop doing business with a company if they’ve had a security breach. With numbers that high, you can’t afford not to protect your printers and keep them secure.