Avoiding a Data Breach: Why Securing Your Printer Is Crucial

Data security is an important topic, and every day we take steps to protect the data on our smartphones, tablets, laptops, and PCs. But, there’s one tool we use every day that is commonly overlooked as a source of risk: the printer. Consider the documents that your company prints—legal records, financial reports, personnel information, and other confidential data. Without the proper security features in place, such as managed print services, your business documents may be at risk of a data breach.

Points of risk in the printing environment
● The printer itself is one of the most obvious sources of risk, especially when printing is automatic. Forgotten print jobs can be easily abandoned by distracted employees, and piles of paper waiting to be claimed pile up quickly next to a shared printer. In the time it takes to get a cup of coffee, printed documents can be stolen, scanned, or even captured by smartphone cameras—and you wouldn’t even know it.
● Any printer attached to a network or configured for cloud-based printing is vulnerable. Settings can be changed, jobs can be rerouted, and saved copies can be accessed. Hackers and malware capitalize on points of vulnerability, especially in older devices.
● Even when you’re disposing of your printer—whether by trash, resale, or reassignment within your company—your data is vulnerable. The hard drive and working memory of a printer can contain copies of the information it has processed, which could be accessed by unauthorized users.

Securing your printer
● Physical and access controls can reduce the risk of data loss or theft. To protect the printer and hard drive, physically lock printers so they cannot be removed from your office. Highly sensitive print jobs should be routed to a printer at a secure location, with limited (and monitored) access. Security-enhanced paper like checks and prescriptions should also be in locked or limited-access areas. To prevent unauthorized access, some printers and multifunction devices can be configured for pull printing, where a PIN or access card is required at the machine to retrieve a print job.
● Data controls are another critical element of your print infrastructure. All data transfer and storage should use encryption to protect the content of documents. Beyond just deleting print jobs, hard drives should be reformatted or overwritten to eliminate traces of past files. Some printers have these important functions built in.

Securing your printer is crucial, and many vulnerability issues can be re-mediated with Managed Print Services (MPS). Contact Monster Technology in Reno for an MPS assessment that addresses data security in your printing infrastructure.