Top 5 insights to improve printer security

How much do you really know about your printers? Most people are oblivious to the risks, so check out these top 5 insights to improve printer security.

In many cases, printers and multifunction printers (MFPs) can be one of the weakest links in the security of a company’s IT operations. Many senior executives and IT professionals incorrectly assume, because printers are behind a firewall, their business information is protected from intruders. Often overlooked, printers may provide access to private information contained in printed images. Intruders also can intercept print files or discover user credentials to gain entry to other networked computers and servers.

Most companies face print security risks. However, only around half (59 percent) of companies surveyed by the Ponemon Institute say print security is important to their business processes. Most security policies don’t cover printing. And senior management is almost 40 percent more likely to be involved in decision-making for overall IT security than for print security. This lack of attention can leave businesses vulnerable to costly attacks from inside and outside their organizations.

Even when you understand the vulnerabilities, creating a complete imaging and printing security strategy can be complicated. More than 200 configuration and security-related settings are in the typical MFP. Securing devices requires coordinated protection of hardware and software, plus comprehensive monitoring and management solutions.

What you can do

Below are five top insights that can help your information security staff understand the risks associated with network printers and make informed decisions to better secure devices, data, and documents.

1. IT leaders must start to think of printers the same way they think of PCs in order to effectively secure enterprise networks. 

Every access point puts your network at risk. Printers and PCs are architecturally comparable and, if left unsecured, either one can make your network vulnerable to cyber attacks.

2. Networks are only as secure as their weakest entry point, which means IT must ensure security policies are extended to every single device that touches the network.

Security leaders recognize that printers are vulnerable and are even anticipating problems, but they’re not yet taking the necessary steps to inventory and secure printers and multifunction printers (MFPs).

3. Networks connect a rising number of devices to printers, which increases the number of data paths that need to be protected.

The rise in mobile connectivity, telecommuting and “bring your own device” (BYOD) culture creates more entry points for cybercrime than ever before.

4. Protecting your printers doesn’t have to be difficult, as new security tools make it easy to meet baseline requirements and keep your network safe.

An MFP can have up to 250 security settings to configure. A security management tool with built-in industry-standard policies, such as the one set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), can help simplify the task of device hardening.

5. IT should include printers invulnerability and event monitoring systems.

By connecting your printer system logs to a security information and event management (SIEM) tool, system administrators can evaluate threats across the network.

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