How MPS Can Protect Your Printer From Hackers

Business printing needs have grown increasingly nuanced and complex over the last few decades, and printer technology has followed suit. Utilitarian blocks of machinery noisily pulling through perforated reams of paper have given way to sleek modern machines with smaller footprints and almost limitless printing capabilities. As with all advances in technology, however, there’s a double-edged sword in the mix with today’s networked printers: security. In order to keep secure internet printing, companies need to protect their printing setup from the inside out – focusing on security both for printed documents as well as printer-as-access-point scenarios. 

 

 

A Door Left Open

With so many devices connected to the IoT, or “Internet of Things,” hackers and cyber-criminals no longer have to gain access to a specific machine in order to gain access to a company’s system. 

One of the most jaw-dropping examples of this “anything connected” hacking technique occurred in 2017, when criminals accessed IoT-enabled water temperature sensors in a casino’s saltwater fish tank. They then downloaded sensitive data from the casino’s internal systems, which were otherwise protected and carefully monitored. This is a prime example of how parts of sensitive wireless networks are often protected reliably from outside threats, but can be vulnerable against “internal” attacks from another point in the network.

In 2018, a famous printer-based hacking attack took over more than 50,000 printers worldwide to print out a tongue-in-cheek pamphlet supporting a popular YouTuber, including at least one printer in a Police precinct.

In 2020, this history repeated itself as more than 28,000 printer users discovered their printers were unsecured through a sobering “attack” – a hacking group accessed and used them to print a 5-page guide to preventing hacker printer access in the future.

Printers are a particularly tempting target for hackers, as they’re used by a wide swath of a workplace, making “unusual” usernames or behaviors less likely to garner notice. Plus, many of them have wifi capabilities, making the device even more vulnerable to attack. Companies that set up and maintain their own wireless printer network often find out about these vulnerabilities the hard way: after hackers have gotten inside the system. Using a managed print services provider is one of the best ways to safeguard against this common hacking technique, as a professional setup for user permissions, as well as ongoing monitoring, will root out irregularities as a matter of course. 

 

 

How Using MPS Stops Hackers

No matter how rigorously cross-trained in office management your support staff may be, chances are they’ll be stumped trying to answer the all-important question: how do you secure a wireless printer? Even an IT department may struggle to lock down unwanted access outside of computers and laptops on your internal network, which is why MPS is the ideal complement to your current digital office security procedures:

 

  • The Right Machine(s): There are many benefits of using a managed print service provider. When your business works with a managed print services provider, you’ll be able to select a wireless printer for your company network that fits your needs. You won’t have to worry that your printer is underpowered or outdated, which makes it easier to “crack” into from the outside. 

 

  • The Right User(s): Once the right multifunction printers are in place, your MPS provider will also work with your company to set up rules for usage. They’ll be able to offer insight into programs and procedures that have historically worked well in your industry, or for your company size. This means that you won’t need to devise a company-wide printing permission plan from scratch.

 

  • The Right Access Procedures: An MPS provider monitors your company’s printer usage, as well as metrics like job size and busy periods. They can use this data to help your workforce implement a smooth system for safeguarding printed documents, such as requiring a key card swipe before materials physically print. While less of a concern than hackers and cybercriminals accessing the system from outside your offices, this security step is important for offices with “need to know” compartmentalized reports or outside vendors / contractors that move freely through the office. 
  • The Right Problem-Solving: When facing a time crunch, an employee struggling to print may reach for the “nuclear option” – e.g. turning off important protections for a company’s wireless network – to get the job done. The problem with this approach is that not only does it make your network vulnerable in the moment, the loophole is often left open by the same rushed or distracted employee. With managed print services, your company always has a safe touchpoint for problem-solving, no nuclear option necessary.

 

 

MPS For Business Scalability And Security

As your business grows, so does the demand on your existing printer or printers. When you need to expand your wireless printing network, it’s important to have a knowledgeable ally to make the transition seamless. Just adding in a single unsecured printer can make your entire carefully-protected wireless network vulnerable.

If all or part of your workforce accesses an office printer on the network remotely, each employee isn’t just a valued team member: they’re also an unwitting potential point of vulnerability for your wireless connection printer. There’s a better-than-average chance at least one home network is already compromised, which means viruses, malware, ransomware, or cybercriminals could infect take-home devices like laptops. These programs and invaders could make their way into the office as the employee does, or they may use those same devices as a remote wireless access point in order to force their way onto the company network. 

An MPS provider can help outline, implement, and assess your entire workforce printing needs in order to secure the system. In a business environment increasingly dependent on remote workers, freelancers, and working-from-home employees, that peace of mind is priceless. 

It only takes one hacker and one unattended IoT-connected device to make your entire network and database vulnerable. With managed print services in place, you won’t need to worry that your printer is the weak link in the security chain. Combined with the ease-of-use and cost savings of using an MPS provider, relying on MPS to safeguard your printer from hackers is one of the easiest business decisions you’ll ever make.

 

 

Sources Cited:

1)      Schiffer, Alex. “How a fish tank helped hack a casino.” The Washington Post (washingtonpost.com), July 21, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2017/07/21/how-a-fish-tank-helped-hack-a-casino/. Accessed November 27, 2020.

2)      Matthews, Lee. “Nearly A Million Printers At Risk Of Attack, Thousands Hacked To Prove It.” Forbes (forbes.com), August 31, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/leemathews/2020/08/31/800000-printers-vulnerable-28000-hacked/?sh=2a1fb874d8a9. Accessed November 27, 2020.

3)      Perekalin, Alex. “Printers gone mad.” Kaspersky Daily (usa.kaspersky.com), December 5, 2018, https://usa.kaspersky.com/blog/hacked-printer-pewdiepie/16668/. Accessed November 27, 2020.

4)      Pickhardt, Kevin. “Why Your Innocent Office Printer May Be a Target For Hackers.” Entrepreneur (entrepreneur.com), January 31, 2018, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/308273. Accessed November 27, 2020.