5 Reasons why your printers are vulnerable to Cyber Attacks

5 Reasons why your printers are vulnerable to Cyber Attacks

The humble printer has been a staple of the office for decades now – and they’ve come a long way since Epson released the first electronic printer in 1968.

Yet while time and technology have bought multiple improvements to the office printer, they’ve also introduced some security complications…

In the past, printers were connected directly to other devices. Now the modern day multi-functional device (MFD) is connected to an entire company network, and like any other device attached to an IT infrastructure, comes with its own risks. Years of using basic desktop printers have arguably made us overlook the cyber security risks posed by modern devices; they’re just printers, right?

How could your printer be a potential threat to your business?  We’ll explain.

Printers face 5 main threats and vulnerabilities:

  1. Document theft or snooping
    Quite simply, this is when a document belonging to someone else is picked up – deliberately or otherwise – by anyone other than the rightful owner. This common security breach highlights all manner of potential security issues when handling sensitive data. Knowing that this type of data is of interest to malicious actors, or can potentially result in unauthorised access could constitute a breach of the General Data Protection Regulations, the subsequent fines severely damaging to a business.
  2. Settings changed without authority
    Unsecured printer settings and controls might expose your device – mistakenly, or intentionally – to altered and rerouted print jobs, opening or altering of documents, or resets to the printer’s factory default settings, wiping your print configurations. Another serious and potentially crippling data breach.
  3. Internal printer storage
    Most printers have an internal disk drive, which can store print jobs, scans, copies, and faxes. If the printer is stolen, or discarded without a full and thorough data deletion process, there’s potential for these sensitive documents to be recovered by enterprising hackers or ‘adoptees’.
  4. Eavesdropping on network printer traffic
    It’s known that Hackers can eavesdrop on network traffic. Not only can they eavesdrop, but they can potentially capture documents that are sent to and from connected devices.
  5. Networks get hacked via the printer
    Many multi-function print devices don’t benefit from corporate-grade cyber security out of the box. Hackers know this and, using vulnerable network ports or even unchanged default passwords, they can access not only the printer, but potential any other connected networks.

Believe it or not, attacks from inside a network are only half the problem. If a printer is accessible via the Internet, the number of potential hackers becomes exponentially more worrying.

Attackers could:

  • Send bizarre and unwanted print jobs to a connected and unsecure printer
  • Use the printer to transmit faxes
  • Gain deeper access to your network
  • Change a printer’s settings
  • Launch Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks to ‘freeze’ network resources
  • Retrieve saved copies of documents
  • Install malware on the printer itself to control remotely or gain access

Thankfully, it’s more than possible to secure your business against the threats above. Like many threat prevention strategies, knowing where the threats originate from, and how they work, goes a long way to strengthening security borders.

Concerned about your print security? Get in touch with us today. We’re still offering free Secure Print assessments for businesses, ensuring your printers and connected networks are protected from threats – common, or otherwise.

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