Can My Printer Get Hacked?

Yes, Printers Can Get Hacked!

When we think of the dangers of “hacking”, we often visualize our desktop computers as the victim. As a result, companies and individuals have taken extensive measures to protect this information, and rightfully so. The issue, however, is that as computers remain in the spotlight, sophisticated hackers have found a way to access an object that is far less obvious, the printer.  Within the US, UK, France, and Germany, 60% of businesses have suffered from print-related data breaches within the last year.

How do Hackers Access my Data Through a Printer?

As printers have evolved so have the complexities of the breaches.  Cybercriminals can use printers as a tool in large schemes by obtaining information that was transmitted to them.

Here are some of the ways that hackers target your printer:

  • Through existing images on a hard disk: All documents that pass through the print device are stored within the hard disk drive. Therefore, if the system is breached, then all the information embedded within the hard disk drive can be obtained.
  • MFP functions that lack security: If your printers lack security functions, this will allow people who are unauthorized to infiltrate the system, leading the hacker to reroute print jobs, save documents, or download confidential scanned documents.
  • Network Security Risk: Unsecured networks leave the jobs in the print queue sitting unprotected. For example, if a network port is open, a user from the outside can obtain confidential information from this print queue.
  • Denial of Service Attacks: This occurs when a cyber-attack leads to your denial of service from your printer. Hackers can do this by simply sending a single distorted HTTP POST request. This act can render the web server inaccessible and useless to anyone wanting to print something.

How Do I Secure my Printers?

Today, businesses are becoming more aware of print hacking, and thus more knowledgeable.  On average, 11% of IT funds are allocated towards print security measures. Although the cost of securing your print can be expensive, the cost of getting hacked is much greater.

Here are some ways to keep your printer secure:

Update your Firmware

One way to protect your printing network is through firmware updates. Manufacturers implement a security bulletin in many printers that notifies customers when there may be vulnerabilities. If there are any holes in the network, that can act as a very easy opportunity for hackers to enter the server. Because security software can become outdated, it is important to ensure that firmware updates are done to patch up vulnerabilities. The issue is that many manufacturers have stopped putting our bulletins on older equipment as newer models are released. For this reason, it is recommended to keep models on a planned technology refreshing cycle. The newer the print device, the more up to date the software is, which can ensure an exceptionally reliable way to protect your printer and keep the network secure. 

Creating a Secure Password

It is also always important to evaluate the specific features and services that the printer and network require. For example, many people assume that because they have security features included in their product when they purchase it, that they are safe from breaches. This is not the case. If the printer still has the manufacturers default settings for admin username and password, this means that it can be found by anyone by doing a simple Google search.  Fix this by creating your own unique passwords and constantly changing them.

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