How to keep your business printers secure

How to keep your business printers secure

With the prevalence of technology only growing in our everyday lives security is becoming a huge concern for all, but businesses perhaps face the toughest challenges and scrutiny. Whether you’re a small start-up or large enterprise, internet security is becoming a top priority and printer networks are no exceptions.

No one is exempt from the threat of hackers and huge names have graced headlines thanks to large scale security breaches. A recent study also found 61% of large enterprises admitted to suffering at least one security breach due to unsecured printing. If even the big players seem powerless against these growing threats, how can everyone else hope to keep their printers secure?

The threat of printer security

While they may not be your first concern when it comes to security in the office, work printers are some of the most at risk of security breaches perhaps for this very reason. Today’s printers have certainly outgrown their predecessors with advanced processors, memory, storage, software and firmware, all of which unfortunately make them even more vulnerable. With a fleet of office printers usually connected on a single network, a security breach on just one printer could wreak havoc for the entire business.

Many forget that some of the most sensitive data in the business is passed through this network, either as a direct printout or through the copy, scan and fax functionalities possessed by multi-function printers. Without the right security measures, companies are at risk of losing some of their most sensitive data to hackers.

Keeping your printers secure

Fortunately, innovative technology provides solutions as well as potential problems in the form of advanced security measures. Along with some simple best practices, opting for a more secure printer with some of these features could protect yours and your customers’ data from getting into the wrong hands.

Change default passwords

The simplest measures are often the ones that are most overlooked. Changing any default passwords that come with your machines might sound basic but many either forget or simply fail to do this out of laziness. Unfortunately, hackers aren’t so lazy. Many share these default passwords in their close-knit community so keeping them is one of the easiest ways to have your network breached.

Keep your printers secure by changing passwords and settings

Keep your printers up to date

Again, it can be easy to put off any firmware updates when you have a busy work schedule but doing so leaves your printers vulnerable to attack. Firmware, the permanent software programmed into your printer, can be updated with new security patches to help protect it. Hackers use old security loopholes and gaps to get in, so out-dated machines are often prime targets.

Authorised release

Look for a printer that can offer authorised release. This is when a user must enter a password, pin number or even swipe an ID card if your printer has an NFC reader to be able to release the print job. This stops documents being left in paper trays, an easy target for hackers willing to swipe sensitive documents in person. It also means all print jobs are attached to a name, date and machine for your own records, so you can keep track of print jobs and retrace your steps if there is a breach.

Authorised release is also great for efficiency as well as security by helping to stop print queues and general confusion over print jobs. With a pull-to-printer functionality alongside authorised release, people can print from any machine by swiping their card or putting in their pin rather than sending documents to a specific machine, a huge time saver in a busy office space.

User permissions

With a printer that lets you set individual user permissions, you can control who prints what to help keep a closer eye security and prevent potential problems. You can restrict the features they use, the machines they can print from and even how much they can print which is great for managing costs as well as security.

Encrypt data

Ensure that data is encrypted in your printer network to ensure that if a hacker does intercept it, they still shouldn’t be able to read any sensitive data. On a large-scale network with various printers, scanners and features this is especially important. Ensure that if someone chooses to scan to email or copy to a shared folder, data travelling between devices is kept secure.

Authorised release a good way to improve printer security
Image: Brother

Storing data

Printers can now have larger memories than ever before allowing you to store even more data and print jobs on one machine, but this can be a huge security risk if it’s not managed properly. Look for a printer or network set-up that lets you set how long data is stored for on each machine. This way, if a print job is never authorised it is wiped from the hardware after a certain amount of time rather than hanging around and at risk of being intercepted by hackers.

Remove processes

Having a whole range of fancy features and processes is nice but each one is another potential security risk in your printer network. After using your printers for a while, look at which features and processes you use and which ones you don’t. Get rid of any unnecessary ones to try and minimise the number of entry points into your network. This includes WiFi and wireless printing if possible. While it’s nice to have these features, sometimes they’re better left for home printing. If your business handles particularly sensitive data, wireless printing is a high-risk entry point for potential hackers.

Managed print

There is a huge range of benefits to opting for a managed print service as a business including security. Putting in place all these security measures and using the advanced security features on your printer can be challenging and many people never end up utilising them to their full potential. With a managed print service, your provider should carry out a full security assessment to uncover potential IP risks in your particular business before coming up with a tailored strategy to combat them.

Want to know more about keeping your printer network secure? Contact us today to find out more. Our experts can help you pick out the most secure printer for your workspace.

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