How Safe is the Network Printer in Your Office?

Written by Nadia Latif 

Despite the development of new, highly sophisticated IT security provisions, SMEs are failing to provide comprehensive protection to all areas of their internal data network — leaving sensitive corporate data susceptible to cyber attack.

Though there are several key areas in which small businesses need to better focus their IT security efforts, the safety and security of the office network printer is proving the chink in the armour for many organisations. This is according to Tuan Tran, vice president and general manager of HP’s LaserJet division.

Speaking during the launch of HP’s latest LaserJet technology in Barcelona, Tran touched on the fact that network printers often prove the biggest potential security hole for SMEs. He said: “Hackers target the weakest area of the network; they don’t go through the most obvious vector of attack, such as well-protected servers and PCs, they go for the back door.”

The HP VP went on to add that network printers, particularly those operated by small businesses, are often integrated directly into the corporate network and accessible via the Cloud — leaving them extremely vulnerable to hackers.

The upsurge in printer-related hacks has prompted some printer manufacturers (HP included) to rethink the security provision offered by specific network-enabled business machines, in a bid to better protect the end-user from cyber crime.

But given that this bolstered security provision only applies to new printers, the question remains — just how safe is the network security in your office?

To help your business keep tabs on the security of your in-house printer, we offer some advice on how to ensure the safety and security of your office printer.

Always Install Manufacturer Software
As touched on above, many printer manufacturers have turned their attention to hardware security — developing robust antiviral software and other security features to guarantee the safety of the machine.

The Latest News
Delivered To Your Inbox

Worryingly however, many businesses neglect to install or deploy this security provision upon integrating the new device into the office, leaving the hardware at critical risk of cyber attack. If left unprotected, the printer could prove an easy target for hackers — enabling them to access corporate data as well as the sensitive, personal information of staff.

That’s why, it’s vital to install relevant security features when prompted by the manufacturer.

Cloud Printing
Since its development, cloud printing (see Wikipedia description) has brought about a complete upheaval in the way offices print — enabling the entire workforce to print from one machine, without the need for a cable or direct connection. Whilst the benefits of cloud printing are seemingly endless, the process does have its pitfalls, particularly from a network security perspective.

Printer experts, Toner Giant, advise: “Put simply, cloud printing presents hackers with more opportunities to gain entry to a corporate data network — with a series of ungoverned entry points that are easily exploitable.”

Printer Security Education
Whilst the overarching security of your corporate infrastructure rests with the IT department, it’s important to educate all staff members in the importance of printer security. As each member of staff is likely to have unrestricted access to the office’s network printer, this drastically increases the likelihood of a cyber-attack — particularly for those utilising a cloud printing solution.

To guarantee comprehensive boardroom-to-workforce network security, invest in the relevant training provision for staff members, and actively promote the appropriate use of in-house printing systems to ensure no individual employee compromises the safety of the network.