People don’t immediately think of printers as being computers, but just as cellphones have evolved to become smartphones, your fleet are intelligent endpoints that must be part of your cyber security strategy.
In fact, your printer is one of five of the most vulnerable endpoints in any organization, and hacking unsecured endpoints are a US$6 billion annual industry that’s continuing to grow. Because most printers today are multi-function devices with onboard storage and part of your office network, they become a gateway to mission critical systems and information that can be exploited with malware by threat actors.
Many organizations don’t even think about printers as part of their overall security strategy, which is one reason there’s value in recruiting a managed print services partner to take responsibility for your fleet because they offer more than just printer repair on demand. Otherwise, your printers may start misbehaving—at the very least, inconveniencing your users, but at the very worst, threatening the very existence of your business.,
It’s all fun and games until data is breached
In the days of fax machines, it wasn’t uncommon for people to send out humorous pranks. Today’s networked printers are also frequently the target of funny hacks, but they can go well beyond a joke.
A couple of years ago, one hacker infiltrated 150,000 printers around the world with a script that searched for open printer ports and executed a bogus test page with the message “Your printer has been owned.”
But it’s not just pranksters targeting your printers. Threat actors are using these unsecured endpoints to spew out ads and random documents no one your company wants—your fleet of printers unwittingly becomes someone else’s advertising platform. And there’s more going on than just silly sheets of paper being wasted.
Don’t get distracted by printer pranks
If someone hijacked your laptop or smartphone to display an ad, you’d be alarmed. That’s why no matter how funny the meme is when it shoots out of the printer tray, you need to assume your business is being threatened.
Your printer is an endpoint device, just like any desktop or laptop computer, router, tablet or smartphone, but threat actors are hoping you don’t realize your printers are the perfect jumping off point by remotely accessing them as means to get into your office network.
While users are chuckling at printed memes or swearing at failed print jobs, hackers are moving laterally to improve their levels of access to more mission critical systems and data. In fact, the most nefarious hackers won’t even bother with the printers themselves. They’ll quietly poke around your network until gain the necessary permissions to do serious damage, either by stealing sensitive data they can sell to others or holding it ransom from you.
Recruit a printer cyber security expert
By the time you realize your printers may been compromised, it may be too late to prevent the damage to your business and reputation. It’s gone beyond just a printer repair job.
The good news is like any endpoint, there are checklists and best practices to ensure printer security, and thereby prevent them from becoming a means for exploitation. By following the protocols for any printers connected to the internet, they can’t be remotely accessed and open an unwanted doorway into your business.
Just like all the other endpoints in your organization, your printer fleet must be audited and secured as part of a cyber security strategy, so consider looking to a managed print services partner that’s aligned with an experienced IT service provider and can do more than just printer repair.