Make print security the strongest link in your organization

April 27, 20186 minute read

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Although many organizations consider cybersecurity a top priority, they still tend to overlook print security This is a mistake you don’t want to make, as hackers are increasingly targeting endpoints, and the attack surface you need to defend is rapidly expanding.

Ninety percent of the 300 IT respondents to a Spiceworks survey reported having a security controls policy deployed, but they don’t extend to printers. Despite this, ZDNet reported more than 70 percent of successful hacking events started with unsecured endpoints in 2016.

Businesses can’t afford to keep ignoring connected devices, like printers. The need to keep print security top of mind grows with every new breach reported. Here’s how you can prevent one from happening to you:

Secure your print infrastructure

Not long ago, printers occupied a fairly low profile role in the network environment. At the time, IT professionals rightly perceived the greatest threats targeted either user accounts or the network infrastructure itself. They bolstered the security for those elements of the corporate network, leaving printers as an afterthought.

Meanwhile, hackers adapted. Now, rather than spending time and energy going after parts of the network that may be heavily fortified, they’re targeting the weakest links instead. Left out of sight and out of mind, they can be far more vulnerable to an attack.

For example, it’s not uncommon for a business to leave its printers with the standard default password—something they wouldn’t dream of doing with a firewall. These printers are often connected to the same network as servers and other mission-critical pieces of network infrastructure, leaving an open door for hackers to pilfer data associated with the company, its clients, and even its employees. Printers without built-in malware protection or threat monitoring are similarly vulnerable to exploits, making it possible for bad actors to intercept print jobs and disseminate malware. To make a long story short, ignoring print security gives the bad guys unfettered access to corporate secrets that could compromise your company if exposed.

Read up on IDC’s take on print security

While closely following threats facing the print environment, IDC recently named HP as a leader in their first IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Security Solutions and Services Hardcopy 2017 Vendor Assessment, recognizing their advancements in providing secure printing solutions. In the report, IDC makes the recommendation: “Organizations should consider HP Inc. when ongoing threat monitoring and risk remediation within the print and document infrastructure is crucial to business operations.” IDC also adds, “HP Inc. should also be on the short list when users are seeking global consistency, sound functional skill sets in program implementation, and a desire to manage print and document security as part of an overall IT security and corporate governance program.”

IDC stressed the importance of an organization’s print security strategy being tied to their overall cybersecurity roadmap, and they must execute, track, and manage their progress against this strategy according to the plan they set. The research firm also recognized HP’s approach as particularly comprehensive, since it takes the entire print and document infrastructure into account. As IDC explains, this multilayered approach begins with locking down the device itself and then extends into all aspects of device usage and content protection.

Lock down your print environment

Businesses can take smart steps now to secure their print infrastructure. Printer device security solutions automatically detect and prevent an attack in real time, alerting the IT team to potentially malicious activity and allowing the business to respond before a potential breach occurs. The next generation of printers even has self-healing capabilities, allowing them to recover from an attack. Smart security management tools can automatically lock down a printer that’s been hit with a virus, isolating it so the exploit doesn’t spread further.

Who hasn’t forgotten to pick up their print jobs, leaving sensitive documents available for anyone to view or take if they like? Pull printing addresses this common security risk by requiring an employee to use a valid form of authentication—like a PIN code or a smart card—to complete a print job. This results in a reduction of printer-related security breaches, making sure documents aren’t intercepted by unauthorized parties. You can also take advantage of encrypted printing for sensitive documents, further ensuring bad actors—whether in the form of insider threats or hackers attempting to gain access from outside the company—can’t view documents in transit.

You likely know you face a tough task in protecting your office networks from increasingly aggressive and sophisticated attacks. As you place additional emphasis on endpoint security, you’ll have an ideal opportunity to include printers in your overall strategy. By bolstering the defenses of your print infrastructure, you can make print security the strongest link in your organization, shutting the door on opportunistic hackers and better guarding your business data against a costly and damaging breach.

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