What’s the Current State of Printer Security?


Friday June 23, 2017

People rarely think about the security of their printers, whether they are set up in a business, home or school. But printers are indeed a target for hackers to control or gain access to sensitive information.

Potentially, anyone on the Internet can have anything printed on your wireless printer if it is not properly protected. While that might seem relatively harmless, think about how much ink and paper could be wasted. Consider how especially unsettling it may be to find offensive material being printed on your home printer or office or school printer that employees and students, respectively, have access to. For example, in 2016, a white supremacist hacker gained access remotely to printers at several universities and elsewhere and printed racist and anti-Semitic material.

But, just as disturbing is a hacker’s ability to gain access to whatever information is stored in your wireless printer. Many modern all-in-one printers used to copy, scan and fax documents, as well as print, contain hard drives. Therefore they often save digital copies of print jobs and have the storage space to save a lot of data. Many of today’s printers also contain networking interfaces, microprocessors and an operating system.

Hackers can also use unsecured printers as a backdoor to gain access to every device connected to your network.

But, by shoring up the security of printers and the network they are connected to, you can reduce the risk of an attack.

Tips to Improve Printer Security

There are several ways to boost wireless printer security, including:

  • Use Manufacturer Security – Because the risk of printer hacking is growing, manufacturers are now adding security features and software. Install them. However, some brands are lacking in security features. Make sure you buy a printer from a brand that offers them.
  • Cloud Security – Touted for its convenience that allows users to print from just about anywhere using a mobile device, cloud printing is still susceptible to hacking. However, Google’s cloud printing service offers a wide range of security features.
  • Implement Logins – If printers are set up in an office environment, where several people have access to them, set up a login system. This will ensure a higher level of security.
  • Purge Regularly – For businesses with printers that store information on their drives, make sure that information is routinely removed. This practice protects both the business and customers whose data may be contained on the printer drives.
  • Change Passwords – Make sure default passwords are changed, which will ensure the management interface is not left open. While managing passwords can be difficult in a company with several printers, it’s worthwhile to avoid hacker infiltration.
  • Eliminate Unnecessary Services – Shut off any capabilities you or your company don’t need. Printers typically arrive with open ports, which are just another opportunity for hackers to access the printer.
  • Use the Patch – Maintain the security of your printer by downloading security patches that will reduce vulnerabilities. However, only download patches from trusted sources.
  • Educate Printer Users – Inform employees, students or family members who share printers about the potential dangers for wireless printers. This will help them understand why security policies exist and remind them to be wary of suspicious attachments and links.

Local Experts
We are here to help with local, friendly advice. Our experienced and impartial staff will take the time to understand your printing needs and recommend the right printer and supplies for you. Find a Cartridge World store near you.