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The Hidden Office Security Threat of printers – Part 2 of 4

Posted on Mon, Dec 14, 2015

In the first of our four part blog post, we looked at the growing threat of cybercrime and introduced the problem of how your multifunction printers (MFPs) could be leaving your organization at risk of data theft.

In this second post in the series, we’ll take a more detailed look at the different ways in which your printers leave you open to data loss. Most of these threats to your office security stem from the fact that your printer is networked, which make it accessible to hackers, and the fact that it stores data on a hard drive, meaning confidential data can be stolen.

multifunction-printersPhysical Document Theft

If confidential documents are printed out and left on the printer, anyone can walk over, pick them up, and steal them. This is the simplest crime of them all, yet minimizing the risk of it happening requires instilling a security-conscious frame of mind across your entire organization. It is important to remember that your office security doesn't just mean IT security.

Digital Document Theft

Because documents are also stored digitally, a hacker could potentially make copies of the files held on the internal storage device. This could be documents that have been printed, scanned, copied, or faxed. If they have access to your network, they may also intercept documents being sent to your printer.

Rerouting Print Jobs

If an individual has access to your printer controls and settings they could reroute all print jobs to another location, meaning that they would start receiving all of your documents.

Stealing from Discarded Printers

Because printers hold documents on their internal hard drives, hackers can access the data even after you’ve finished using it. If you discard a printer but do not wipe it another person could easily use the device to access your data.

Software Vulnerabilities

Unfortunately, the software installed on the printers themselves is often vulnerable to simple exploits. For example, recently an exploit was found for Lexmark and Xerox printers, where if you back-up the printer, the account passwords were saved in plain text, making it easy for a hacker to gain access to all the passwords they need.

Internal and External Threats?

Protecting your printers involves pinpointing both internal and external threats. While traditionally we think of hackers as individuals outside trying to get in, research by Forrester shows that quarter of businesses pinpointed internal threats as their most common reason for a data breach [1].

Although, we listed several hidden office security threats of printers, that doesn't mean you can't stay secure with your printers. There are several ways to overcome these security problems. In the next blog post, we’ll take a look at how you can improve your office security by protecting your printers against both internal and external attacks.

[1] – Understand The State Of Data Security and Privacy -

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