How a Managed Print Service Prevents Printer Hacking

Companies must take precaution when safeguarding data. Doors have locks, Wi-Fi is password protected, but printer security is often largely ignored. To prevent data breaches, a well-managed print service will use a range of tools and policy, to help safeguard data, while fostering a security mindset.

Where are Printers Most Vulnerable?

Many printer related vulnerabilities can easily be exploited by hackers and are rarely given a second
thought. Hackers can take advantage of printer vulnerabilities in many clever ways to gain access to
sensitive data. Printer vulnerabilities may include:

Documents: Documents can leak sensitive information especially when printed to the wrong device, or when the document is left unattended.

Print Setting Changes: Printer settings can be manipulated to reroute printed documents or allow access to unauthorized users.

Storage Units: Printer hard drives that are not properly encrypted or improperly discarded, may be recovered and opened to reveal confidential data that was previously sent to the printer.

Wireless Sniffing: Hackers may eavesdrop on unencrypted network printer traffic to capture document packets unknowingly when users transmit data to the printers.

How Do Hackers Attack Printer Networks?

Hackers can compromise printers in many different ways, to the point that companies are offering big rewards for ethical printer hacking that can allow the company to learn, patch, and gain insight from printer vulnerabilities before the real attackers’ strike.

Common Hacker Printer Exploits

Most commonly, printers can be used as misdirection for a broader cyberattack, denial of service  attacks, disabled for ransom, or be vandalized when left unsecured. Acts of vandalism can include changing the LCD text, strange print jobs, and unauthorized faxes.

Printers can additionally be used as ideal backdoors to inject malware that can send and receive information to workstations. This is accomplished by infecting the printer BIOS (any system with a BIOS can potentially be infected by malware).

What Happens When the Hacker Gains Control?

Famously, City Union Bank and the Bank of Bangladesh were hacked of 81 million dollars when malware was used to affect the Swift banking network, which subsequently sent inaccurate verification data to network printers, to mask the fraudulent transactions.

Another malware attack led to the creation of the Mirai botnet, which infected smart devices to include printers, baby monitors, smoke detectors, and other devices that one would never presume to be hackable. Malware can most easily be prevented by updating printer passwords and keeping the printer firmware updated, which a managed print service professional (IMPS) can assist with.

The Benefits of Managed Print Services

There are several tools and techniques a managed print service can implement to further prevent security breaches. Between all the tools, an experienced manage print service should have no problem incorporating security into the print service policy. These tools and techniques include:

Encryption: Printer data can be read by attackers through unsecured printer networks or read directly from the printer’s hard drive. Encryption makes run of the mill access rather difficult by only allowing authorized channels to access the printers.

Restricted Network Access: Printer access should be restricted to authorized users. The process is most effectively done by performing an audit of network printers, who is connected, and determining those that need or shouldn’t have access to the printer.

Secure Printers: Security features are built-in on most modern printers, but may be disabled by default, or have never been activated. Security features may include automatic shutdown or restarts when threats are detected. A well-managed print service will be able to properly set up printer security options to reduce the chances of data compromise.

Update Printers: Outdated firmware can weaken the printer network, especially if new software updates contain security patches.

Password protection: Wireless printer networks should always be password protected. By default, Passwords are normally turned off and may provide easy access to unauthorized users when left unset

Managing Print outs: Print jobs can be sent to the wrong computer or left unattended. Company operating procedure will help mitigate the chances of printouts reaching the wrong hands and a managed print service can work with the company to collaborate on establishing form policies that work for everyone.

Pull Printing: Pull printing helps prevent data loss by only allowing the user to print to designated areas and will not release the print job without an authentication, smart card, or authentication code.

Keep Printers Safe with the Security Features of Managed Print Services

Printers are vulnerable targets and companies must be proactive when safeguarding business assets. Security vulnerabilities can be easily exploited by hackers; however, a well-managed print service will incorporate the security procedure necessary to mitigate risks.

Office Technologies provides managed print services throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania. With over 25 years of experience, Office Technologies is a veteran manage print service provider that keeps business security in mind. You can trust Office Technologies to protect your data and keep office assets out of the reach of hackers.