When IT folks think about the threats that face their computers and devices, their thoughts usually turn to high-profile dangers like viruses or phishing emails, but there's another danger lurking right under their noses that often gets overlooked.
Printer security is an equally important, yet often wide open threat to network security and the potential for damage is vast. We've been spreading the word about printer security to our customers because we find so many IT managers who are not aware of the dangers of an unsecured printer fleet.
Xerox recently published an informative rundown of the threats unsecured printers can pose to your network, and since the topic is so timely, I thought I would share them with you here. If you'd like to dive into more details, please check out the original article on Xerox's small business blog.
Let’s have a look at some of the hidden threats of unsecured printers.
Uncollected documents lying in printer trays are so common they often go entirely unnoticed. In fact, 25% of print jobs are never collected. That’s not just a waste of paper, toner, and effort required to clear and dispose of the documents. It’s also a huge security threat, as valuable data is left around for all to see.
Even when print jobs are collected, the threat doesn’t end there. Printed documents need to be stored securely, and often, that’s not the case: they’re put into unsecured filing cabinets that pretty much anybody can gain access to.
Because you need to keep historical records, you have to keep printing and storing. And the more you print, the more you store, so the problem grows exponentially.
Assuming you’ve solved the storage problem – with more and more secure filing cabinets – there’s still a virtual problem to face.
That sensitive data we mentioned earlier may not be lying in your printer tray, but it could very well have been intercepted on its way to the printer.
70% of organizations have had an accidental data breach through printing. The total cost of all data breaches (including print breaches) to business is enormous – $400m annually at one estimate. And 60% of breaches can compromise data within minutes3.
Whether the data travels over the physical network cable or through a wireless connection – increasingly the case in the world of BYOD – it’s at risk.
Small businesses can take proactive steps to secure documents. Even when it gets to the printer, your data isn’t always secure. Multifunction printers (MFPs) these days are more like computers, and sensitive data stored on MFP hard drives is just as vulnerable to security threats.
Apps and users everywhere
All of those BYOD users expect to be able to print anywhere, anytime, from any device. If you don’t make that functionality as easy as sending an email, they may find their own solution: downloading and installing unauthorized apps to make cloud printing easier.
But making mobile printing push-button easy can also have a downside. Anywhere, anytime, from any device is fine – but not anybody. You need to be able to see who’s using your printers, what they’re using them for, and whether there’s any unauthorized access to printers.
With MFPs effortlessly scanning documents and routing them to the people and places they need to be, you also need to ensure that there isn’t unrestricted access to scanned documents.
Balancing flexibility and security
If you’re thinking all of these sound like big problems, you’re right. And they’re problems that businesses of all sizes face.
Intelligent printers and the mobile revolution have created a perfect storm for security threats – but it’s one that you can weather with the right technology.