Is Your Printer Security Up to Scratch?

When it comes to using a shared printer, security becomes key. If you haven’t checked how secure your printer is lately, here are a few tips to ensure your printer security is up to scratch.

At first, printers are easy to assume to be simple machines. But as time has progressed, so has the technology contained within them. This advancement now opens up more opportunities for data thieves and malicious criminals to exploit the security within them. Like the recent Wolf mini-series of films produced by HP has shown, hacking and system takeovers threats are becoming ever more increasing in the workplace. In 2017, a hacker under the online alias of ‘Stackoverflowin’ hacked the system software of over 150,000 insecure printers. When asked why, he commented that it was to raise awareness of leaving printers exposed on networks without security settings enabled. This and other industry examples have made it critical for printer owners and organizations to step up their game when it comes to printer security.

Improving Your Printer Security

Secure the Printer Unit


For printers in the public eye, one of the most important starting point is to secure the unit itself. This could be securing it physically (locking it into one set place) or internally (activating user authentication or authorisation to printer settings). In order to deter improper or unauthorised use, consider implementing controls to monitor paper checks and machine maintenance tools. Depending on the type of printer you use, you could use options such as PIN authentication, smart ID cards or other. If you are unsure on how to access the security controls within your printer, consult your IT department or a digital security specialist within your organization.

Encrypt the Printer’s Data


Just as vital as securing a printer unit is, making sure to encrypt data on the printer is equally as important. If your printer operates within a business network or inter-connected network structure, the encryption of printing job data will help to avoid the risk of data being intercepted before it reaches the printer. This is again where to implement user authentication so that you can link each printer user to the document they have sent to print. And once a document has printed, remind yourself and your colleagues to erase any saved data relating to completed printing jobs as to close another possible printer security loophole.

Monitor the Print Environment


In workplaces and shared space environments, there should be at least one person monitoring and managing the print environment. This can mean making sure to monitor the frequency of usage of a printer and reviewing printing practices. By having an effective monitoring system in place on your printer, it can help to reveal and identify those who are ignoring company printing policies. It can also point out those that are using the printer for improper business means. Away from this, being able to monitor a printer’s usage can detail more about how much paper is in use and how cost-effective current printing jobs are in your business.

Protect Documents and Other Print Outs


A common yet underlooked flaw of shared or workplace-based printers is documents remaining uncollected from the printing tray for extended periods of time. This classes as improper printer security as they can be viewed, collected and used by anyone within or outside of the premises. To avoid this security risk, investigate as to if you can enable pull or push printing on your printer. This will mean documents and print outs will be unable to be viewed or retrieved unless the user which sent the job logs into the machine or authenticates the job via ID card. This is especially important for highly sensitive and confidential personal documents, which when falling into the wrong hands, can cause huge damage to businesses and individuals.

Secure Print Self-Assessment

If you are still unsure on how secure your printer security is in the workplace, then HP have created a survey which will help you assess your current printer policies up against general printer security best practices.

You can access the self-assessment survey here

Sam Rose