Are Wireless Printers Secure?

July 29, 2015

Are Wireless Printers Secure?

July 29, 2015

Is your wireless printer secure?Many companies today use wireless printers, scanners, copiers and fax machines (or all-in-one printers) for their ability to share the workload across fewer physical resources. This saves on time, capital expenditures and per-page printing costs. However, many organizations do not secure these devices on their wireless network, leaving themselves exposed for a cyberattack.

Because wireless printers are often overlooked by companies as a security threat, they are a particular favorite entry point many nefarious characters, as are other unexpectedly connected devices.

Unfortunately, the damage they can cause can be striking, and can impact more than the device itself. It can bring down the whole network.  

Bad actors can access the printer or copier’s own hard drive, which stores data transmitted to and from the device. In departments like Accounting and Human Resources this is particularly damaging. Criminals can also scramble the printer’s hard drive, install malware on the printer, and wreak other kinds of havoc on the printer.

These breaches become even more troublesome when there is no firewall in place, granting open access to the network for anyone who gains access to the printer. A skilled hacker can retrieve anything everything stored on the company network, install malware or viruses in the network and corrupt other connected devices. Unfortunately, once someone gains access to the network, all bets are off.

It doesn’t need to be this way though. With standard protective measures, your wireless printer can be as secure as the rest of your network. For the best insurance against attacks, we recommend having an expert IT technician assess and implement proper security measures. However, there are many things that you can do as well. We’ve put together a checklist for you to use in your office and have included 4 of the most important items below.  

4 ways to secure your wireless printer:

Install firewalls. A firewall provides an extra layer of security to protect the network from anyone attempting to access it through the printer. This means that if someone does access the printer, they will be unable to access anything further.

Wipe hard drives frequently. Remember the hard drive in your printer? It should be wiped on a frequent basis; daily if possible. This way, if someone gains access to the device they will not be able to obtain much – if any – information from the hard drive, making their efforts fairly fruitless.

Encrypt your network. All the other measures we’ve addressed work to protect at the network or printer level. Encryption provides additional protection for the information itself as it travels from device to device. For example, from a scanner to a person’s email inbox or computer. Information that is transmitted to and from the printer or scanner will travel through the network. Strong encryption like Secure Socket Layer (SSL) ensures that even if this information is spotted by a bad actor, they will not be able to decipher it.

Limit access. Only computers that you have control over should be permitted to print. Employees might want to print from their cellphone and think it harmless, but their cellphone could contain malware that infects your printer or network with malware or steals information undetected.

Like anything else, wireless printers do come with their own challenges from a security standpoint. They are ideal additions to the office because of the obvious productivity gains at a much lower cost that individual printers. Ensure your wireless printer is secure so you can continue to enjoy the benefits of using them.

Take steps to secure your wireless printer – get the free checklist!

Milner, Inc. is an industry-leading technology services company that offers state-of-the-art office products and services that help businesses leverage technology to save money, reduce consumption, and increase productivity. Our solutions transform the offices of yesterday into the businesses of tomorrow. Contact us today!

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