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How to Make Your Printers and Copiers More Secure

Cybersecurity is no longer a concern for just the large enterprise. Increasingly, small-to mid-sized businesses are being hacked, and their data may be stolen or held hostage for ransom. What’s worse, hackers are gaining access to company networks in ways we previously couldn’t have imagined. Anything connected to a network is vulnerable to hacking – and yes, that includes your copiers and printers.

Copiers and printers are often overlooked because they’re “behind the firewall,” so companies often assume they’re already secure. Unfortunately, open ports make printers and copiers easy targets for hackers. If you’re not careful, hackers can access all the computers and their personal information through printers and copiers (especially if there’s no BIOS security).

Fortunately, you can take steps to protect your devices from hacking. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Protect Your Hardware

If you’re looking at cybersecurity, the best place to look is at the device itself. Is all your hardware secure? Many vendors, such as HP, Cisco, and Xerox have built-in safeguards. But any hard drive can be hacked if it’s connected to a network. As our cybersecurity measures have increased, so have the sophisticated methods of hackers, such that you don’t even need a hard drive to be vulnerable to hacks. If your device is “smart” or connected to the “Internet of Things,” (which many printers and copiers are), then you’re vulnerable.

Many small to medium-sized businesses neglect cybersecurity because they see themselves as inconsequential. However, research shows that this makes hackers view SMBs as “low hanging fruit,” – in other words, ripe for the picking. Why waste time getting through a large enterprise firewall, when your business is easy to hack for a few quick bucks?

In fact, a study from Gartner predicts that 40% of businesses who manage their own networks will be hacked this year, and half of them won’t even know it.

Fortunately, there are a few ways you can reduce your risk from hardware hacking:

  • Change default passwords. Most printers and copiers come with default passwords. Change them, and change them often.
  • Encrypt information. Your data is vulnerable both in transit and at rest. Be sure to encrypt it in both instances.
  • Do a digital shred. If you’re getting rid of your copier or printer, be sure to wipe the hard drive first.
  • Removing the hard drive is better. While a digital shred will keep your information away from would-be hackers, taking your hard drive out before disposal is even better.
  • Review your security practices. When’s the last time your security practices had a checkup? Meet with your IT team to review your protection and disaster recovery plans.

Know How Software Protects Your Data

Your hardware is not the only way hackers gain entry to your system; software is also vulnerable to hacking. If you look at the trend in cyberattacks, you’ll see that the way hackers operate is changing. For example, in the early 2000s, the main threats were viruses and worms. Today, the hacker’s playbook has become much more sophisticated: Trojans, stealthbots, spyware, and more. Previously, a hacker’s only motive was making money, but today, they’re more sinister: some people just like destroying others.

Software and state-of-the-art applications are essential for today’s printers. Workers are increasingly mobile, and that creates the need for remote printing. Pull printing allows users to print to a network and pull their job from any enabled printer or copier. It’s convenient and it’s perfectly safe… assuming the data is encrypted and you have secure authentication. This is where software comes into play.

There are a lot of applications on the market that give mobile employees the freedom to print to their office using a secure connection. A native print application on a mobile device lets users send their job to a secure queue. With pull printing software, users can print jobs when they get back to the office and collect all their documents in a single session. This works especially well in streamlining workflows.

Essentially, software works with your hardware to make your printing and copying more secure. But, even if you have a secure device and adequate software protection, it’s essential that you monitor your networks. To aid this process, make sure you have network settings configured to notify you of potential threats.

Check out this Video for this Potential Threat:

Get Your IT Department on Board

Lastly, your IT department should be performing periodic audits to ensure your network devices and software are performing as they should. Remember, hackers are constantly changing their tactics and becoming more sophisticated. To stay ahead, you must have a proactive, not a reactive, approach to cybersecurity.

If your IT department is struggling to keep all your devices secure, Technocom offers a no-obligation evaluation of your devices. Let us point out your vulnerabilities and make suggestions for improving the security of your printers and copiers.